British Columbia's Agricultural Research and Development corporation (ARDCORP) released the results of the On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion Benchmark Study in late December 2011. It was undertaken to provide an informational benchmark from which individuals and groups in B.C.'s agricultural sector can inform decisions pertaining to the development of on-farm anaerobic digestion systems.
(Photo:Two Stout Monks) Arial View of British Columbia's agricultural landscape.
The benchmarks have been drawn based on the analysis and summation of feasibility studies developed for twelve farm-sites in B.C. The twelve sites were selected with the intention of representing geographic, demographic and circumstantial variances.
The study highlights a key issue within the B.C's government regulations, "the Ministry of Environment's (MOE) proposed On‐farm AD Waste Discharge Authorization essentially limits the volume of non-agricultural feedstocks an on-farm AD system can accept to 25%. As a result, the potential number of economically viable AD systems in B.C. is restricted to a very small number of sites that have an ideal combination of farm size, distance from interconnection and proximity/access to highly desirable feedstocks. If MOE proposed On‐farm AD Waste Discharge Authorization were changed to enable on-farm AD systems to meet the requirements for accepting 49% non-agricultural feedstocks, the number of economically viable sites in B.C. would increase dramatically".
Funding for the study was provided by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In B.C., this program is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. Learn more about the Anaerobic Digestion Benchmarking Study here.
Turning waste to energy solves two big problems for an industrial society. Upfront investment and operating costs are big hurdles to overcome for such a proposition but if these challenges can be met, the dividends are big for investors and the planet.
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ARDCorp’s Cow Power program hopes to kickstart anaerobic digestion technology in British Columbia this year, turning manure into energy, solving the problems of waste management and providing a source of clean power.
Israeli start-up, Emefcy is also hoping that their patented wastewater treatment technology will take hold in a big way, turning wastewater treatment from a huge energy drain to an electricity generator.
Emefcy’s technology uses naturally occurring bacteria in an electrogenic bioreactor to treat wastewater. The organic material in the waste produces power and treated water, transforming wastewater treatment from an energy-intensive, cost-intensive and carbon-intensive process, into an energy-generating and carbon-reducing process.
The benefits are both economic and environmental: Conventional wastewater treatment uses 2 percent of global power capacity (80,000 megawatts and 57,000,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide), costing $40 billion per year. Rather than using conventional energy-intensive aerobic processes or methane-producing anaerobic digestion to treat wastewater, Emefcy harvests renewable energy directly from the wastewater and feeds it to the power grid, enabling the energy-positive wastewater treatment plant. The primary initial applications are for wastewater treatment in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, with total market potential of US$10 billion annually.
Emefcy has caught the eye of Energy Technology Ventures – a GE-backed investment company focused on the development of clean energy technology. Their investment into Emefcy, represents their first foray into water-related technology.