Oregon biogas industry primed to ignite
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Stahlbush Island Farms' Bill Chambers shows off the farm's 1.6 megawatt plant.
If Oregon realized its potential for a biogas industry, the state would have an industry 12 times its current size, according to a recent review by Energy Trust of Oregon and The Climate Trust. But kickstarting the biogas industry can’t happen without state support, the review concluded.
Biogas is methane gas harvested in an oxygen-free environment. It comes from the breakdown of a variety of organic wastes, everything from sewage and yard debris to manure and food processing residue. It can be either compressed as a transportation fuel, injected into a natural gas pipeline or combusted for electricity or heat.
Its supporters say biogas creates energy and jobs while recycling nutrients and eliminating methane emissions. It also has potential to reduce operating costs for some rural businesses —farmers can substitute bedding hay for animals with residue from biogas digesters, for example — and reduce farm odors.
Energy Trust and The Climate Trust completed a review of biogas potential and benefits in February, producing a white paper called Growing Oregon’s Biogas Industry: A Review of Oregon’s Biogas Potential and Benefits.
The effort stemmed from meetings hosted by Energy Trust that brought the biogas community together, provided a networking opportunity and assessed needs among the small group of early adapters.
“What came out of that was the need for some sort of white paper that, at the very least, promoted what biogas is, raised attention for biogas and offered a brief overview around how we could see more biogas,” said Peter Weisberg, senior project analyst at The Climate Trust and a co-author of the paper with the Energy Trust’s Thad Roth.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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