Aug 27, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Political officials, business representatives, agricultural groups, local farmers and multiple media outlets attended a celebratory event last week at Twin Birch dairy farm on Benson Road to recognize and extol the new biogas energy technology operating at the Skaneateles farm.
The event was hosted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which helped finance and promote the Twin Birch achievement, and included an award presentation by American Biogas Conditioning, the company who provided the technology for the project.
The work of NYSERDA is to “find ways to capitalize on renewable energy resources here in New York state,” said NYSERDA President and CEO Francis J. Murray Jr. Biogas is a clean energy technology that is a “true renewable resource, that will be here as long as there are cows and people,” and has “certainly great potential,” he said.
The new technology at Twin Birch generates electricity from the methane emanating from cow manure that has been processed through special equipment; it also reduces waste and significantly reduces the manure odor coming from the farm.
The process is one in which the farm collects the manure from its 1,300 cows into an anaerobic digester, an immense underground vat that heats up the manure to 100 degrees for 21 days while it churns and separates the compounds in the waste. The end product contains liquid that is used for fertilizer, solids used as sterile bedding materials and the methane gas that is pumped to the biogas generator, where it is then converted to electricity and any excess is cleanly burned.
Twin Birch built its anaerobic digester in 2002, but the biogas technology was added in late 2011 and finalized in the past few months. The system, built by American Biogas, generates 225 kilowatts of electricity per hour, or enough to power 170 homes for a day. This produces enough energy to power all the barns, houses and satellite facilities at Twin Birch.
The new biogas system typically costs more than $1 million to create, but Twin Birch spent between $500,000 and $750,000 because many of the components were already in place and thanks to the help of two grants from NYSERDA.
“We would not be here today without the help of NYSERDA, both financially and technically,” said Amyar Zadeh, president and CEO of American Biogas. “Our goal is to improve the environment.”
Zadeh also presented award plaques from American Biogas to Twin Birch owner Dirk Young, as well as to representatives from NYSERDA and the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District as “champions of change” for their role in installing this new technology. The Cayuga County SWCD has its own biogas generator currently being finalized for regional use.
Young, whose farm Zedah said was probably one of the “foremost” pioneers in renewable energy in the region, said Twin Birch learned many lessons while installing and utilizing the biogas system, and called it “a step forward to cut costs and use renewable energy.”
Murray said there are similar biogas generators at two other sites in New York state built to showcase the value of the technology, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are about 8,000 potential farm candidates for biogas technology across the U.S.
Representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle also were on hand to participate in the event and give their kudos to Twin Birch for its biogas project.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.