Biogas Market Snapshot
What is a biogas system?
Biogas systems use anaerobic digestion to recycle organic waste, turning it into biogas, for energy (the gas), and valuable soil products (liquid and solids), using a natural, biological process. After simple processing, biogas is a renewable substitute for natural gas, and the digested materials—the liquid and solids—can be turned into a wide variety of useful soil products, similar or identical to peat moss, pellets and finished compost. Biogas systems can also recover nutrients helping to protect waterways from runoff and preventing over fertilization to increase nitrogen levels in soil.
What counts as organic waste? Manure from dairies, sludge filtered from sewage water, municipal solid waste, food waste, yard clippings, crop residues and more.
Operational US Biogas Systems
The U.S. has over 2,200 sites producing biogas in all 50 states: 250 anaerobic digesters on farms, 1,269 water resource recovery facilities using an anaerobic digester (~860 currently use the biogas they produce), 66 stand-alone systems that digest food waste, and 652 landfill gas projects. For comparison, Europe has over 10,000 operating digesters and some communities are essentially fossil fuel free because of them.
Potential US Biogas Systems
The potential for growth of the U.S. biogas industry is huge. We count over 13,500 new sites ripe for development today: 8,241 dairy and swine farms and 3,888 water resource recovery facilities (including ~380 who are making biogas but not using it) could support new biogas systems, plus 931 food scrap-only systems and utilizing the gas at 415 landfills who are flaring their gas. If fully realized, according to a recent industry assessment conducted with the USDA, EPA and DOE as part of the Federal Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, plus data from ABC, these new biogas systems could produce enough energy to power 7.5 million American homes and reduce emissions equivalent to removing up to 15.4 million passenger vehicles from the road. They would also catalyze an estimated $40 billion in capital deployment for construction activity which would result in approximately 335,000 short-term construction jobs and 23,000 permanent jobs to build and run the digesters.
Find more detail on biogas in the 50 states here
Sources: American Biogas Council, Biogas Opportunities Roadmap (USDA, EPA, DOE, 2014), EPA AgSTAR 2016, EPA LMOP 2017, Water Environment Federation “Enabling the Future”
last updated April 26, 2018