American Chemical Society
es104227y_si_001.pdf (1.07 MB)

Contribution of Anaerobic Digesters to Emissions Mitigation and Electricity Generation Under U.S. Climate Policy

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-16, 19:42 authored by David P. M. Zaks, Niven Winchester, Christopher J. Kucharik, Carol C. Barford, Sergey Paltsev, John M. Reilly
Livestock husbandry in the U.S. significantly contributes to many environmental problems, including the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Anaerobic digesters (ADs) break down organic wastes using bacteria that produce methane, which can be collected and combusted to generate electricity. ADs also reduce odors and pathogens that are common with manure storage and the digested manure can be used as a fertilizer. There are relatively few ADs in the U.S., mainly due to their high capital costs. We use the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to test the effects of a representative U.S. climate stabilization policy on the adoption of ADs which sell electricity and generate methane mitigation credits. Under such policy, ADs become competitive at producing electricity in 2025, when they receive methane reduction credits and electricity from fossil fuels becomes more expensive. We find that ADs have the potential to generate 5.5% of U.S. electricity.