What Can You Do As A Farmer?


identify whether a waste-to-energy
project is right for your farm

Our research revealed that waste-to-energy technology has dramatically improved over the last few decades, and keeps getting better and better.  However, a waste-to-energy system requires a certain amount of concentration of animal production and the technology can be prohibitively expensive to implement. Depending on the size of your farm, the scale of your production, and the terms of your contract, implementing a waste-to-energy project may or may not be right for your farm.

If you know that you are interested in pursuing a waste-to-energy project, but lack the capital, resources, or expertise to do so, here are a few suggestions to help you in that process:


Reach Out to Organizations
Looking to Purchase Carbon Offsets

Through carbon offset initiatives, more commonly known as "cap-and-trade," governments connect greenhouse gas emitters with actors who have successfully implemented greenhouse gas reduction technologies.  A "carbon offset," alternatively known as a "carbon credit," refers to the reduction of one unit of CO2-equivalent of greenhouse gas emitted in one place, and can be "traded" to compensate for continued emission of that unit in another place.  

When livestock farmers implement waste-to-energy technologies, they produce these "carbon credits."  Carbon offset initiatives can thus serve as a funding mechanism for projects like the installation of waste-to-energy technology at livestock operations, allowing farmers to recuperate the costs of system installation and maintenance by selling their carbon credits on the open market.

A livestock farmer who implements an anaerobic digester or waste-to-energy project on their farm should research local or regional carbon offset trading programs to find an emitter who is interested in purchasing their carbon credits. Carbon offsets are often in high demand by companies, businesses, universities, and many other organizations who are interested in pursuing carbon neutrality.  While North Carolina is still in need of a single organizing entity to manage financing for carbon credits, organizations such as NC Green Power, Duke University's Carbon Offsets Initiative, or the UNC Environmental Finance Center may be able to help farmers interested in selling offsets.

This diagram shows how carbon offsets are used to "offset" emissions from elsewhere.   Source :  Sprinter Life

This diagram shows how carbon offsets are used to "offset" emissions from elsewhere.  Source: Sprinter Life


take advantage of Government Cost Sharing Programs, Initiatives, and Opportunities

There are several government programs that incentivize environmentally friendly livestock production and waste management practices through cost sharing and subsidy payments. Below are a list of organizations and programs that provide funding for livestock farmers who are seeking to improve the sustainability of their farming operation. 

  • USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Provides technical and financial assistance to producers seeking to implement conservation practices on their agricultural land. In North Carolina, this program prioritizes anaerobic digester projects and works on a first come first serve basis. So act quickly!

  • Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act: PURPA allows individual energy producers to sell up to 5 MW to large energy powers like Duke Energy by selling back to their grid. If this energy is coming from a renewable source (like anaerobic digesters), you can complete a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) geared toward benefiting renewable energy producers.
  • USDA’s Repowering Assistance Program: Promotes renewable energy use by providing funding for bio refineries to install renewable biomass systems for heat and power for their facilities. If you’re eligible for this program, you could land up to $500,000 in funding for your project!