By Amanda Bilek, Biomass Magazine.
One of the greatest attributes of biogas is the flexible nature of the resource. It can be generated from a variety of organic feedstocks such as food waste, livestock manure, crop residues, biosolids, or solid waste in a landfill. Its utilization is also flexible, as biogas can be burned for electrical generation or heat, cleaned and used as a replacement for natural gas or compressed for use as a vehicle fuel. There is even early stage research being performed to figure out how biogas can be a feedstock for biobased chemical production to displace petroleum in materials and products we use every day. The flexibility of biogas offers many advantages, but the flexibility of the resource also presents several challenges.
Given the multiple project configurations for biogas projects, it can be difficult to design policy initiatives aimed at taking advantage of biogas utilization. Biogas is much more than a low-carbon energy resource. It can be a more effective tool in managing organic waste feedstocks because biogas generation relies on anaerobic digestion to produce the gas. Biogas projects can also result in other positive environmental benefits such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air and water quality. Oftentimes, to make biogas projects economical, monetization of additional environmental benefits is required. However, not all U.S. markets offer the ability to monetize nonenergy benefits.