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Why Biogas Is an Attractive Alternative for Renewable Energy

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Why Biogas Is an Attractive Alternative for Renewable Energy

Jan 25, 2022

In the U.S. agricultural market, biogas operations have become an attractive solution for generating renewable methane gas. In a process called anaerobic digestion, organic matter such as food or animal waste is broken down and produces biogas. By creating renewable energy from organic waste, biogas displaces fossil fuels and helps prevent carbon emissions from entering our air.

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), for instance, is designed to decrease the carbon intensity of California's transportation fuel pool and provide an increasing range of low-carbon and renewable alternatives, which reduce petroleum dependency and achieve air quality benefits. Biogas qualifies as a feedstock for low carbon fuels under the LCFS.


Modular Solution

Although not a new discovery, biogas is a fairly recent development for Systecon, with its new application of modular hot water boiler plants for biogas production. These systems provide economical heating for the creation of renewable biogas and appear to be an upward-trending application for use among dairy farmers across North America.

Systecon’s value comes into play with the streamlined modular delivery of boiler systems, including a turnkey solution for engineering, manufacturing, installation, and startup. The boiler plants will be fueled by local natural gas distribution (or propane gas if natural gas is not locally available at the project site).

Each boiler plant provides a hot water loop that will help maintain biogas anaerobic digesters at 160 deg F. The digesters then feed into a pressure swing operation that separates a gas mix (45% CO2, 55% Methane) to produce the methane rich renewable gas (typically discharged to a truck trailer or local gas pipeline connection). 


Benefits of Biogas Operations

The renewable gas generated from biogas operations currently holds a high value. (Gas produced from dairy farms as one example.)

There are dairy farms and livestock operations that use anaerobic digesters to produce biogas from animal waste. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that in 2020, 20 large dairies and livestock operations in the United States produced a total of about 173 million kWh of electricity from biogas.

Systecon is currently providing boiler plants for dairy farmers in the Western US. This uptick in biogas solutions seems to be catching on quickly, with project development evolving through utility companies from the start.

The Potential of Biogas

There are more than 2,200 biogas-producing sites, including farms, water resource recovery facilities, and landfill gas projects in the US, with an opportunity for enormous growth, per the American Biogas Council (ABC). If 14,000+ new biogas sites (counted by ABC) were developed, the systems could produce 103 trillion kW hours of electricity each year.  According to an assessment done for the Federal Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, this would result in an emissions reduction comparable to removing 117 million cars from the road.  

While biogas is a recent development for Systecon, the company has been involved in decarbonization efforts with its patented CritiChill system for some time. Systecon expects to become more involved with biogas and to continue to meet its customers’ low- or no-carbon goals.  

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