Anaerobic Digester Workforce Training Curriculum Development

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The Cornell University PRO-DAIRY Anaerobic Digester Workforce Development Project is a project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, aimed at developing and delivering high quality educational programs targeted to a range of workforces within the dairy farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) sector of the clean energy field.  One of the barriers to growth of the AD industry in New York State, as identified by current AD operators, is the lack of a trained, skilled workforce to service and maintain different aspects related to the AD and biogas systems.  These courses are aimed at developing a workforce to support this need, and to eliminate this barrier to growth.

What Did We Do?

Six technical short-courses were developed, intending to provide educational training to persons who are involved in the planning and implementation of dairy farm-based anaerobic digestion systems and to those currently or who would soon be managing an operating system.  The short-courses developed are:


· Introduction to Farm-based Anaerobic Digestion

· Technical Feasibility of On-farm Anaerobic Digestion

· Economic Feasibility of On-farm Anaerobic Digestion and Economic Assessment Model Instruction Guide

· Practical Considerations and Implementation of Anaerobic Digestion System from Planning and Design to Construction

· Technician’s Start-Up and Operation

· Biogas Clean-up and Utilization Systems Selection, Operation and Maintenance


What Have We Learned?

We have learned that it is difficult to deliver technical training for jobs and a workforce that do not yet exist.  Training was mostly targeted at dairy farms currently or expecting to operate an AD and biogas system, and those that advise these farms.  The authors feel that although participant numbers were usually lower than expected, continuing to offer these courses will eventually eliminate a technical expertise barrier, helping aid growth in the field.

Future Plans

Although funding for this project has ceased, efforts will continue to serve technical schools that have interested parties that may be suitable candidates to enter the field and participate in the training programs.  As demand exists, courses will be offered to farms and their advisers across the State.


Jennifer Pronto, Research Assistant, Cornell University,

Additional Information


The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority was the funding organization for this project.


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