Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cow Power for Energy Independence in New York

New York State leads the nation in yogurt production which depends on milk production. We are in top 3 milk producing states and farm businesses are key to our rural economy. With higher number of cows comes a lot of manure waste production and environmental concerns within the watershed. Urban population and neighbors complaint about odors created when manure is applied to farm land. The farm businesses also face high energy costs and wish to manage and control this expense. These problems were recognized and became the basis for NYS funding programs to help solve these problems and help in the economic development.

Climate change requires reduction in green house gas emissions to atmosphere and Methane from farms is know to be a problem that will soon require compliance with upcoming US EPA requirements. Similarly surface runoff from the farms is containing pollution in the form of organics and nutrients. Anaerobic digesters are ideal solution but costly to implement based on the price quotes from International companies and many German and Dutch companies are active in USA and have built the digesters at significantly high cost for those large farms that can afford it. Most studies have shown that small medium size farms are not in a position to afford it. This condition can be changed by adopting simple processes and using locally procured labor and materials.

We are happy to announce that this dream of an affordable digester has come true recently at Spruce Haven Dairy Farm in Cayuga county NY, where a 1.5 million gallon "lagoon based in- ground" digester and 500 KW co-generation system has been constructed within the NYSERDA grant budget of $2 Million Dollars. The system was started up in July 2014 and by September it was making more Bio gas than projected and the engine generator is consistently operating above 95% design capacity. This farm has over 2500 cows feeding the manure to the digester at a flow rate of about 100,000 GPD, including the flushing wash water from sand removal system.

A high efficiency digester built and operating successfully at a capital cost of under $800 per cow is great example for many dairy farms that in New York State it is now possible to solve your problems and become net energy producer by supplying excess power to the Grid.

The Farm in Cayuga County NY is open for field trips for other farmer to see the system and its operation. Energy and Environmental issues can be addressed with the financial help from NYSERDA and USDA as these businesses seek affordable solutions. Spruce Haven farm has achieved Energy Independence for their electric consumption by producing more energy than what they use. They look forward to making RNG- bio-fuel for the trucks by cleaning and compressing the bio gas as renewable transportation fuel in near future.

New Projects like this can help us meet the climate change goals for renewable energy and also help in economic development in rural America.

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