Washington Firm Starts Work On Second Dairy Biogas Plant
June 29, 2010
By James Cartledge
Farm Power, a renewable energy company based in Washington State, has broken ground on its second anaerobic digestion project for a dairy farm.
The firm held its ground-breaking ceremony yesterday for a 750-kilowatt project just north of the Nooksack River in Lynden.
Once complete, the new plant is expected to generate enough electricity for around 500 homes from cow manure.
Anaerobic digestion involves the use of bacteria to feed off organic material, which then gives off methane-rich biogas that can be burned or put through an engine to generate electricity or heat.
The process also produces a solid residue that makes for a good fertilizer.
As well as generating renewable energy, the process offers a use for farm waste and food waste, which would otherwise decompose, giving rise to emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Regional roll out
Farm Power, which has its headquarters in Skagit County is aiming to develop digester facilities across the Northwest Washington region, where 100,000 dairy cows offer considerable renewable energy potential.
Kevin Maas, who founded Farm Power Northwest LLC with his brother Daryl, in 2007, said: “Our goal is to build regional digesters that serve multiple farms, thus making the manure-to-energy technology and benefits available to those who would be unable to build and maintain a digester on their own.”
“After nearly two years of planning and development, we are excited to begin construction on our newest manure-to-energy project,” added Mr. Maas.
The Lynden project is being supported with a $1 million grant from the Washington State Energy Program and a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant program. It also has a $2.4 million loan from Shorebank Pacific.
The facility is being built by Washington firm Andgar Corporation, and should be completed by the end of the year.
The company’s fist dairy digester is in Rexville, Washington, and has been running since 2009 – providing electricity for utility Puget Sound Energy through its Green Power Program.
“We are proud to support Farm Power as they start construction on another impressive endeavor,” said Tom Maclean, manager, Customer Renewable Energy Programs for PSE. “The Maas brothers are making a local renewable energy project work in a tough economy, which shows how when ingenuity meets demand, incredible things can happen.”
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