The White House released a “Biogas Opportunities Roadmap” highlighting the economic and environmental benefits and potential for biogas systems in the U.S. According to the Roadmap, biogas systems offer a wide range of potential revenue streams, growing jobs and boosting economic development for communities, businesses and dairy farms. The systems work by recycling organic material — including cow manure and food waste — into valuable co-products such as renewable energy, fertilizer, separated nutrients and cow bedding.
The Roadmap was developed with the dairy industry through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which was established under the leadership of dairy farmers, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Innovation Center brings together leaders of dairy farmer organizations, including NMPF, along with cooperatives, processors, manufacturers, and brands, to foster innovation and help dairy farmers and importers sell more milk and dairy products. Biogas initiatives completed by the Innovation Center helped inform the Roadmap, including 2013 research that identifies a $2.9 billion market potential for anaerobic digester systems that co-digest dairy cow manure and food waste.
“The Biogas Roadmap will help stimulate the emerging biogas market in ways that could provide revenue-generating opportunities for dairy farms of all sizes,” said Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation, which develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own.
The Roadmap strategies are entirely voluntary, not regulatory. “This validates the proactive and voluntary path the industry is already taking to reduce methane emissions, and provides direction for future actions and opportunities,” said Mulhern. NMPF sits on the Board of Directors for the Innovation Center.
The USDA, DOE and EPA will take these steps to promote the development of biogas systems:
• Fostering investment in biogas systems: To help overcome barriers to the widespread investment in biogas systems, USDA will lead efforts to better understand and track the performance of anaerobic digesters, seek opportunities to broaden financing options, and review Federal procurement guidelines.
• Strengthening markets for biogas systems and system products: The Roadmap identifies activities that could strengthen the market for biogas systems and system products including energy and other value-added products. For example, dairy farms of all sizes could enhance their revenues through nitrogen and phosphorus recovery.