Energy Outputs and Financial Returns of On-Farm Biodigester Systems in the United States: A Case Study in Vermont
International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy
Volume 6, Issue 2, March 2017, Pages: 10-18
Received: Feb. 20, 2017; Accepted: Mar. 14, 2017; Published: Apr. 11, 2017
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Qingbin Wang, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA
Ethan Thompson, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA
Laurel Valchuis, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA
Robert Parsons, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA
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This study assesses the investments, energy outputs, and financial returns of on-farm anaerobic digester systems (ADS) by farm size through a case study in Vermont and discusses the potential policy implications. Detailed data on the initial investments, production of electricity and other marketable products, operational expenses, and income, collected through surveys of eight operating ADS on dairy farms in Vermont, are used to estimate the return on equity (ROE), return on assets (ROA), and other financial indicators for small, medium, and large farms. The primary survey data indicate that the average investment was $1.35 million for small and medium farms (75-500 cows) and $2.44 million for large farms (>500 cows). Financial analysis indicates that the ROE and ROA were 12.54% and 13.50% for large farms but only 0.73% and 1.07% for small and medium dairy farms, respectively. Whereas the technology of ADS developed in the United States seems to favor large farms in terms of both energy production and financial returns, the centralized ADS developed in Europe and low-cost mini digesters developed in China may have potentials for small and medium farms to develop more economically viable ADS in the United States.
Anaerobic Digester System, Renewable Energy, Dairy Farms, Economics, Vermont
To cite this article
Qingbin Wang, Ethan Thompson, Laurel Valchuis, Robert Parsons, Energy Outputs and Financial Returns of On-Farm Biodigester Systems in the United States: A Case Study in Vermont, International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy. Vol. 6, No. 2, 2017, pp. 10-18. doi: 10.11648/j.ijrse.20170602.11
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This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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