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Anaerobic digester systems (ADS) for multiple dairy farms: A GIS analysis for optimal site selection


  • Thompson, Ethan
  • Wang, Qingbin
  • Li, Minghao


While anaerobic digester systems (ADS) have been increasingly adopted by large dairy farms to generate marketable energy products, like electricity, from animal manure, there is a growing need for assessing the feasibility of regional ADS for multiple farms that are not large enough to capitalize their own ADS. Using geographical information system (GIS) software, this study first identifies potential sites in a dairy region in Vermont, based on geographical conditions, current land use types, and energy distribution infrastructure criteria, and then selects the optimal sites for a given number of ADS, based on the number of dairy farms to be served, the primary energy input to output (PEIO) ratio of ADS, and the existing transportation network. This study suggests that GIS software is a valid technical tool for identifying the potential and optimal sites for ADS. The empirical findings provide useful information for assessing the returns of alternative numbers of ADS in this region, and the research procedures can be modified easily to incorporate any changes in the criteria for this region and can be applied in other regions with different conditions and criteria.

Suggested Citation

  • Thompson, Ethan & Wang, Qingbin & Li, Minghao, 2013. "Anaerobic digester systems (ADS) for multiple dairy farms: A GIS analysis for optimal site selection," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 114-124.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:61:y:2013:i:c:p:114-124
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.06.035

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chynoweth, David P & Owens, John M & Legrand, Robert, 2001. "Renewable methane from anaerobic digestion of biomass," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-8.
    2. Megan Swindal & Gilbert Gillespie & Rick Welsh, 2010. "Community digester operations and dairy farmer perspectives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(4), pages 461-474, December.
    3. Pöschl, Martina & Ward, Shane & Owende, Philip, 2010. "Evaluation of energy efficiency of various biogas production and utilization pathways," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 3305-3321, November.
    4. William F. Lazarus & Margaretha Rudstrom, 2007. "The Economics of Anaerobic Digester Operation on a Minnesota Dairy Farm," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(2), pages 349-364.
    5. Wang, Qingbin & Thompson, Ethan & Parsons, Robert L. & Rogers, Glenn, 2011. "Economic feasibility of converting cow manure to electricity: A case study of the CVPS Cow Power program in Vermont," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 104564, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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    Cited by:

    1. Comber, Alexis & Dickie, Jennifer & Jarvis, Claire & Phillips, Martin & Tansey, Kevin, 2015. "Locating bioenergy facilities using a modified GIS-based location–allocation-algorithm: Considering the spatial distribution of resource supply," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 309-316.


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