Promoting Sustainability in East Jefferson County, WA
Keys to Successful Biodigester Operations in Snohomish County”
The Key Speaker for February directs the operations of a successful anaerobic biodigester in Snohomish County that uses microorganisms to process biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen to produce methane gas, fertilizer and other useful products. Cattle manure, farm wastes, expired food products, and other commercial biowastes are all continuously broken down or “digested.” The resulting methane gas feeds a 450 MW electric generator 24 hours a day year round.
Several such anaerobic biodigesters currently contribute to the million-euro annual operating surplus of the rural municipality of Wildpoldsried, Germany (population 2,500) that many in Jefferson County have been studying as an example of successful energy sector development.
The Key Speaker for the Energy Lunch Program in February is Daryl Williams of the Tulalip Tribes, a sovereign Indian Tribe west of Marysville WA, who – together with Dale Reiner of Sno/Sky Agricultural Alliance, a dairy/cattle association near Monroe WA, and John Sayre of Northwest Chinook Recovery, a Puget Sound salmon charity in Anacortes – collaborated on initial planning, funding, development, and operational direction of the Qualco Energy biodigester near Monroe.
The Qualco Energy digester is sixteen feet deep, covers a little more than a quarter of an acre, and has a capacity of 1,452,000 gallons. Pictures of the digester and further details are on Qualco’s web site.
Mr. Williams describes (i) how a partnership started as a “fish” project became a WSU-supported non-profit energy development; (ii) how $3.2 million in funding was assembled from federal energy and agriculture agencies, the Washington State Legislature, and local supporters; (iii) the highlights of digester operations since 2011; (iv) major digester issues including feedstock arrangements, nutrient management, pathogen control, and generator emissions; (v) elements of the current cash-positive operating budget; (vi) current plans for expanded digester operations; and (vii) studies related to scrubbing and compressing the digester gas for use in transportation.
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