Innovative Business Models for On-farm Anaerobic Digestion in the U.S.

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AgSTAR is a collaborative voluntary program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). AgSTAR promotes the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) systems to advance economically and environmentally sound livestock manure management. AgSTAR has strong ties to industry, government, non-profit and university stakeholders and assists those who enable, purchase or implement anaerobic digesters by identifying project benefits, risks, options and opportunities.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) continues to be a sustainable manure management opportunity with growing interest in innovative business models for project development.   AD systems provide a number of benefits, including improved nutrient management, locally sourced renewable energy, and diversified revenue streams for farmers.   As energy prices remain low across the country, and interest grows in managing food waste and organics outside of landfills, new business models have been implemented to make these on-farm AD projects viable. This presentation will provide a national overview of the livestock AD sector, explore new AD projects across the U.S., and highlight successful projects with innovative business models.

The presentation will cover several case studies of AD projects on topics including:

  • Third-party ownership and development of projects;
  • Food waste collection and boosting project profitability through tip fees and increased biogas production;
  • Eco-market products from dairy manure fibers; manure-based alternatives to peat moss for the horticulture industry; and
  • Biogas to vehicle fuel; opportunities and financial considerations.

With only 244 operating on-farm AD projects across the U.S., there exists a great opportunity for market share growth at the approximately 8,000 farms that could support a project. This, coupled with the desire for alternative management of organic waste streams, provides a unique opportunity for this sector to grow in the near future.

Pigs in a fieldCows in a field

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Nick Elger

Program Manager

AgSTAR & Global Methane Initiative

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1201 Constitution Ave NW, Mail code: 6207J

Washington, D.C. 20460

Phone: 202.343.9460