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New opportunities for carbon revenue from manure digesters

June 22, 2011

One of the many benefits of using anaerobic digestion for management of livestock manure is the destruction of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. For more than a decade, it has been possible for livestock operations to generate carbon offsets for this methane reduction when they replace their open manure lagoon systems.


A dairy operation should be able to generate two to four offset credits per cow per year, on average. Unfortunately, the carbon market has been defined by a great deal of change and variability, generating uncertainty in the financial models for digester projects.
Over the last couple of years, more voluntary buyers of carbon offsets have entered the market, and they have been shifting their preferences towards offset programs that utilize stringent standards and operate in an open and transparent manner. For livestock operators, this means there is both growth and stability in the demand for their credits, which is coupled with rising prices. Prices for livestock Climate Reverse Tonnes (CTR) have recently been in the range of $8 to $9 each (as of late March; this is subject to change).
The livestock protocol gives guidance about monitoring and metering requirements, and it will be much easier to comply with these if they are incorporated into the design of the digester project. Start early on the development of a monitoring plan to make sure that you have the proper equipment for metering gas flow and methane concentration, as well as the operating hours of your engine, flare or other destruction system. The biogas that is generated by the digester may be destroyed on-site or off-site; there is no prescription about how it is utilized.



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