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More Ways to Make Money from Farm Biogas Plants

In this article we will list and describe the many: “Ways to Make Money from Farm Biogas Plants”.

The remarkable thing about anaerobic digestion (A D) plants, also know as biogas plants, and as “digesters” is the number of ways they can create an income, and save money, for their owners.
We think that many people fail to appreciate the potential for business diversification, and profit, which on-farm biogas digesters can provide.

That’s why we compiled a list of them, published the video provided below, and wrote this article.

The following different income streams, can contribute to the economics of individual farm digester projects.

Some apply to all digester installations, while others are a matter of choice, or determined by the size or location, of the farm.

Some may not be possible for certain waste types, and as this list is for the United Kingdom, some of these income streams may not be available in your country.

The ways in which financial benefit is possible, fall essentially into two categories.

Income Created from the By-products of Anaerobic Digestion

First, there are the savings or direct income created by the by-products, including:

1) savings, on the cost of artificial fertilisers for the farm itself, when a farm uses its own digestate as a fertiliser on their own land

2) sales of digested materials, for use as fertiliser, by other nearby farms

3) sale of fibre or finished compost, either through a regional marketing organisation, or by distribution locally

4) savings in on-farm energy costs, through the use of gas for heating and cooking

5) the sale of electricity, or biogas, either locally or through the national grids, and

6) the sale of spare heat, from CHP units for use in heating buildings or greenhouses, for example.

Income Created from Payments and Subsidies for Reducing Environmental Problems

Second, there are payments and subsidies, of one kind or another, for reducing environmental problems which affect the whole community.

These payments could include:

1) gate fees for processing other organic wastes, such as source-separated domestic food waste

or garden waste or possibly sludge from small sewage works

2) incentives for producing renewable energy, either through the Renewable Heat Initiative or Feed-in-Tariffs, (also known as FiTs), for electricity generation, and

3) payments for overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

4) sometimes there may even be payments made by governments to encourage farmers to use anaerobic digestion as a way to reduce the burden of farmyard contamination on local watercourses, in areas of intensive dairy farming.

Aanerobic Digestion Cleans Up Bathing Beaches

In the early 2000s there were even AD project grants given to some farmers close to bathing beaches in Scotland’s Solway Firth, so that biogas plants were built in an area where dairy farmyard, summer storm-water slurry run-off, was jeopardising the tourist industry.

On those local beaches, EU bathing beach water quality in the period after after heavy summer storms, was significantly improved, by installing anaerobic digestion plants.

Our conclusion is that:

Establishing effective ways of using all the by-products of a biogas plant, and marketing them in the best manner for maximised income, can raise the income from biogas plants substantially.

A number of forms of government funding (subsidies) are available to help ensure a robust economic viability for not only farm biogas plants, but also community biogas projects, and municipal waste-collection authority involvement in the industry.

Governments have been subsidising biogas production, but generally they need to focus the provision of this money more directly on the environmental benefits of each AD Facility.

By doing that, the contribution of public funds can be best used, to help encourage use of the biogas process in ways which meet the needs of small, as well as larger farms.

In particular, it is important to bring together as many as possible of these income streams, for each anaerobic digestion plant.

The good news is that, if this is done, many more farmers, on many more farms, should be able to find it possible to profitably install many more biogas digesters.

Thank you for watching our video presentation (above), and reading this article, we hope you found it useful.

You may like to also watch our video on how to raise biogas yield, as another way to improve the income from existing anaerobic digestion plants.

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3 Responses to More Ways to Make Money from Farm Biogas Plants

  1. Jacqueline Boyd February 12, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    One discouraging factor in Biogas Production is its meagre quantity produced per AD. A new focus should geared towards optimization of the production capacity of methane gas, hence reducing the volume of the residual biofertilizer. This will secure smooth and successful transition from fossiel fuels to green energy.

    • Rebecca Hughes February 14, 2017 at 11:16 pm #

      I do agree that the future for AD lies in improving the gas yield per cubic metre volume of feed/ digestate, but I don’t see any significant direct reduction in the volume or the fertilising value of the digestate.

      It is true that producing more biogas per unit volume will result in there being less carbon and hydrogen in the digestate, because it will be converted to methane CH4. I am not a fertiliser expert, but the value in the fertiliser surely comes from the available nitrogen sources in the digestate, and other elements such as phosphor, and potassium and the rate of Ch4 production is not going to affect that, as far as I can see.

      Making more biogas is simply a win-win as far as I can see, and it WILL happen in my opinion because lots of research is taking place into improving biogas yield, all over the world.

      • Amy Kelly February 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

        Thank you for your insightful comments. In my own opinion, I also think that to foster the development of global bioenergy we need a cartel parallel to OPEC that can pool information, researches and partnerships in biogas as a core alternative to fossil fuels.

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