In early 2010, Dairyland signed an agreement with Bach Digester LLC (Dorchester, Wis.) to purchase the energy from a new anaerobic digester “cow power” facility located on the 1,200-cow Bach farm.
This latest addition to Dairyland’s animal waste-to-energy portfolio can generate 300 kilowatts of electricity to power 220 homes. Most of the anaerobic manure digester facilities in the Dairyland system can generate 775-840 kilowatts of energy, enough to power at least 600 homes. In addition, Dairyland purchases electricity from other farm digesters, powering hundreds more homes with renewable energy.
As Dairyland continuously explores ways to expand its renewable energy generation by adding to existing resources, it also supports future potential. A new technology developed by a Wisconsin company, USEMCO, will potentially make it possible to site manure digesters at much smaller farms, which could greatly expand the quantity of such operations in future years. Dairyland is supporting a pilot project using the new technology at a small dairy farm in its service area.
Fast facts about Dairyland’s Animal Waste-to-Energy program
How does animal waste-to-energy work?
Cow manure is collected and heated in the digester tank, a process that creates methane gas. This biogas fuels a large engine to produce renewable electricity. The process also has additional environmental side benefits, reducing animal waste problems associated with manure disposal on farms. The odor is reduced, and weed seeds and pathogens are killed during the digestion process, thus lessening the need for herbicides and pesticides on the farm. Another useful byproduct is bedding that can be used in the dairy.
View the Cow Power brochure (PDF) to learn more about this interesting form of renewable energy.
Waste to Watts Video
Click here to watch Waste to Watts, an eight minute video tour of the Five Star “cow power” facility, with John McWilliams, Dairyland Resource Planner. The video will open in a pop-up window.
Waste to Watts is a Windows Media Video. If you are having problems viewing the video, click here to install Windows Media Player.