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CO-DIGESTION—POTENTIAL INCREASE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION FROM WASTE FOR CALIFORNIA

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This paper assesses the potential benefits of co-digestion implementation in the state of California. The focus is to increase biogas production and renewable energy generation through anaerobic co-digestion of dairy manure and biosolids, each with the addition of food waste. In addition, the implementation of co-digestion at Inland Empire Utilities Agency's (IEUA) Regional Plant No.1 (RP-1)) and the associated issues and costs are discussed. Finally, using the experience from IEUA RP-1, cost/benefit analyses (business model) of a typical co-digestion project are discussed from the perspective of those fronting the initial capital costs (developers) and the sewage treatment plants (STPs) where the digesters are available, biogas is generated and the generation equipment is located (host facility) – assuming they are different. The goal of this business model was to provide the financial analysis for a typical co-digestion implementation in a STP that is interested to become a host for co-digestion project.

This study shows that implementation of anaerobic co-digestion of food waste with dairy manure and wastewater sludge can significantly increase the potential for renewable energy generation in California. In addition, co-digestion offers cost benefit solutions to the increasing environmental regulation requirements for better waste management of sludge, dairy manure and food waste. Given that dairy farms and food processing facilities in California are located relatively concentrated, and STPs typically have additional capacity in their digesters, it is likely that implementing co-digestion at existing STPs and/or creating centralized co-digestion plants is the trend where various wastes can be managed more effectively.

The cost/benefit analyses of co-digestion projects showed that a developer can increase shareholder value by offering the value-added service of developing new onsite generation capacity from co-digestion. Furthermore, assuming little or no generation is occurring, the host facility adds value through savings from purchasing power from the developer for less than prevailing retail rates. As long as the prevailing retail rates remain at current levels, this business of implementing co-digestion presents a good opportunity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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