This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 16, 2009

Anaerobic Digesters to Help Cut Dairy Emissions by 25% by 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on December 15 an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 while turning manure into electricity using anaerobic digesters. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy , the USDA, and dairy producers, the groups agreed to work together to reach the target. USDA will contribute by undertaking research initiatives, allowing implementation flexibility, and enhancing efforts to market anaerobic digesters to dairy producers.

Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. The technology utilizes generators that are fueled by methane captured from the animal manure. Currently, only about 2% of U.S. dairies that are candidates for a profitable digester are using the technology, even though dairy operations with anaerobic digesters routinely generate enough electricity to power 200 homes. Through the agreement, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will increase the number of anaerobic digesters supported by USDA programs. Beyond promoting the digesters, the agreement will encourage the research and development of new technologies to help dairies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. See the USDA press release and the description of anaerobic digesters on DOE's Energy Savers Web site.