The increased emphasis in regulation and compliance with air, water, and solid effluent management standards has brought waste management to the forefront of agriculture and industry challenges.
Wisconsin generates more electricity from anaerobic digestion than any other state, according to Chris Voell, National Program Manager for AgSTAR/USDA in “Advancing Energy Independence with Environmental Benefit: Livestock Manure Digesters," 2010.
Baker Tilly provides services under the "Energy Applications from Agriculture and Cheese Production Feedstock Grant" from the Wisconsin State Energy Office (SEO) to create a strategic plan to increase development and utilization of waste from agriculture and cheese production within the state as feedstock for alternative energy sources. The emphasis of the project was to identify solutions for barriers and create an environment in the state where the challenge of waste management could be an opportunity to create economic development, thereby strengthening agriculture and cheese manufacturing industries in Wisconsin.
The land of cows and cheese
America’s Dairyland is home to 1.26 million cows and more than 12,000 registered dairy herds.* Regardless of size, all dairies must address the issue of manure as an inevitable by-product of dairy farming and its potential as a pollutant and source of greenhouse gas (GHG). In addition, Wisconsin is home to more than 125 cheese producers.* Whey permeate and other cheese production waste can have its own unique economic and regulatory challenges related to municipal disposal and/or land application.
The strategic plan focused on energy production from manure, whey permeate, and waste water as feedstocks for energy-related applications.
The waste from cheese production, as well as manure, can be put to use by feeding it through an anaerobic digester and using it as feedstock to produce electricity, heat, transportation fuel, fertilizer, and/or animal bedding. The SEO grant funds allowed Baker Tilly and its project partners to research and develop a physical site for testing and showcasing technology using agricultural and cheese production waste as feedstocks for energy-related applications. The win-win for cheese manufacturers and dairy farmers is that processing waste as an alternative energy source can generate new sources for revenue and potentially allows operations growth when such growth is constrained by waste management or other regulatory challenges.
Baker Tilly will created a strategic plan that pays special attention to the use of manure as a scalable feedstock option for dairies and to the efficiencies inherent in combining feedstocks and applications for cheese plant waste and manure. In addition, the outreach efforts of the project focused on shifting the perception of waste as a cost for disposal to an application with possible inherent financial and other benefits. Baker Tilly conducted numerous educational workshops to various audiences to introduce current nontraditional financing concepts for waste to renewable energy projects.
Outcomes of report
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Baker Tilly is working in conjunction with the following industry partners: