Renewable energy production in California is getting another boost as dairy biogas digester development is turning waste into fuel. This article from Dairy Cares says the development of the waste-to-fuel converters is being helped by new programs, incentives and partnerships.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently announced the creation of a new Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, an important front-end boost for expanding the number of dairy digesters. With funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (cap-and-trade program), $11.1 million in competitive grants will be awarded for the construction of new dairy digester projects in California. These grants can provide up to 50 percent of the total cost of a new project, with a $3 million grant cap. An additional $500,000 will be made available for research and demonstration projects that improve the economic performance of dairy digesters in California.
Another key to achieving economic viability of dairy digesters is the price paid for green, renewable electricity generated on the farm. Today’s dairy bioenergy market is new and underdeveloped. However, 2015 should see significant market maturation for dairy bioenergy with the expected full implementation of the California Public Utilities Commission’s bioenergy feed-in tariff mandated by SB 1122. This law requires that California’s three large investor owned utilities collectively procure 90 megawatts of bioenergy from dairy and other agricultural sources.
The article goes on to point out that national partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and new opportunities on the horizon should make the California dairy community “optimistic about the potential to develop more cost-effective, environmentally friendly dairy digesters to our state.”