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Green news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
by Phillip Wolf
on April 30, 2014 at 2:28 PM
This is cool.  
If I understood things correctly, what seems to make it work economically is that it is located at the landfill, so they are using the EXISTING gas scrubbing technology to clean the gas and and an EXISTING microturbine (which already has a CARB emissions certificate) to burn the gas. The marginal cost to do biogas in these circumstances is low because they are leveraging existing, paid-for infrastructure and taking advantage of unused capacity in their landfill gas generation, which makes sense since landfills generate less gas as time goes on.  
It seems that the conclusion that one should draw is that biogas generation from digesting organic waste makes good sense if you run it at a landfill (in that the waste collection and sorting and gas cleanup and combustion infrastructure are already in place) and if you have a farm nearby that will supply animal waste to feed the digester and which will use the leftovers from the anaerobic digestion as fertilizer. Under those conditions, they may have found a sustainable, assumedly cost-neutral way of generating biogas.  
The video/press release seems to imply that biogas is, in general, a sustainable, cost-neutral method for producing renewable energy and that this project is a model for what could be adopted all over the country. It is probably not that. This doesn't take anything away from the unique set of circumstances that have been assembled at UC Davis and the clever, thoughtful folks who have put these circumstances together. I just wish that they would point out that this set of circumstances is hardly typical.
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