Interest for anaerobic digestion surges
By Stephanie Gordon
Several investments have been made by industry players to boost the prevalence of anaerobic digestion in North America.
Anaerobic digestion helps turn organic waste such as livestock manure, food scraps, and oils and greases, into biogas. Biogas is a renewable energy source that can be used for heat and electricity.
Bioenergy DevCo, a global developer of anaerobic digestion facilities, announced that it has received its first institutional investment of $106 million from Newlight Partners LP, a private equity firm based in New York. Bioenergy DevCo currently has more than 200 plants throughout the world that create renewable natural gas and healthy soil products.
Bioenergy DevCo intends to use the investment to expand its operational footprint in North America, working with municipalities and corporations to develop anaerobic digestion facilities. The projects will transform organic waste into renewable natural gas and an organic soil amendment, reducing landfill waste and carbon emissions.
The company also announced it acquired BTS Biogas, an Italy-based company that has built 200 biogas plants around the world. The acquisition will enable Bioenergy DevCo to increase BTS Biogas’ technology footprint in North America.
“2019 is probably the biggest year in the history of digestion as far as I can remember.”
Dana Kirk, who manages the Anaerobic Digester Research and Education Center at Michigan State University, remarked that “2019 is probably the biggest year in the history of digestion as far as I can remember,” in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Kirk estimated that there are 50 to 100 new projects starting this year.
The potential of biogas by the numbers
Organic waste, from manure to food waste, can be used to produce biogas, a renewable source of energy. Currently, the United States has 2,200 operating biogas systems across 50 states. According to a 2017 report from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, there’s the potential to add over 13,500 new biogas systems across sectors.
When it comes to the agriculture sector, AgSTAR states that there are only 242 farms with active digesters in the United States. AgSTAR is a collaborative program sponsored by EPA and the USDA that promotes the use of biogas recovery systems.
In 2015, livestock manure management contributed about 10 percent of all methane emissions in the country, yet only three percent of livestock waste is recycled by anaerobic digesters. The EPA estimates there is the potential for 8,241 livestock biogas systems.