Conference & Expo

Speaker Spotlight

Featured in the panel titled:
Lessons from the Field: Examining Working Digesters to Gain Insight into their Unique Value Proposition
Wednesday, April 22 | 10:30 am – Noon   |  View Panel

Principal & Director of Operations,
Cavanaugh & Associates
A swine waste-to-energy project at Loyd Ray Farms near Yadkinville, North Carolina, is the state’s first project to generate and transfer renewable energy credits (RECs) from a swine facility in accordance with NC’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The REPS went into effect in 2007—why do you think more swine producers haven’t been able to take advantage since then? 
The more typical reason is economics. At the farm level, the probable returns for project developers compared to the costs of installing, operating, and maintaining a biogas recovery system are insufficient to attract much progress. The farmers, themselves, may not have time, resources, nor technical comfort to develop these projects on their own. There has been great interest in developing more regional projects that include many farms, in an effort to increase the returns to a more attractive level. However, when the feedstock from multiple sources is added, new risks associated with the availability, transport, and handling of the feedstock are introduced, which further increases the cost of the project, the time required to address concerns, and the developmental complexity of these projects.
Can you elaborate on the role Cavanaugh & Associates played in this project? 
For the Loyd Ray Farms project, Cavanaugh generated the system concept, prepared the modeled system outputs, designed the system, provided construction support, commissioned the system, and have been retained to operate the system.

What kind of challenges had to be navigated through while working toward the project’s goals? 
While the technologies and approaches used in the system are sound and well-established, some of the specific equipment used was immature in its development, and led to some equipment performance challenges. These were all identified and remedied. Biogas generation, particularly in the warm season, was greater than projected, which challenged our ability to beneficially utilize all the biogas. Finally, a disease outbreak that affected the swine industry disrupted feedstock availability for a period of 20 weeks. 

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