The Minneapolis Star Tribune, in its article “Cow power—manure—seen as part of climate change strategy” points out that methane digesters are still struggling to pay for themselves.
The dairy industry announced in 2008 that it had set a goal to cut greenhouse emissions by 25% by 2020. Methane digesters were to play a key role in meeting that goal. Now just five years away, methane digesters continue to struggle to reach their promised potential.
The article visits two Minnesota dairy farms that have installed digesters. The first is High Island Dairy, Lake Prairie Township, is a 3,000-cow Jersey farm operated by the Davis family. It processed some 80,000 lb. of manure daily through a digester which powers five engines. The heat and electricity generated is used on the dairy, and one is sold to electrical grid.
The second dairy is Dennis Haubenschild’s dairy near Princeton, Minn., where manure from a 1,000 cows is converted to hot water and electricity.
Dennis and Marsha Haubenschild.
Haubenschild is a methane pioneer, installing his digester in 1999. But he, too, has experienced ups and downs with the technology.
The bottom line is that methane digester still need government subsidies to make them economically viable. You can read the full article here.