Skaneateles 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.