EPA’s National AgSTAR Conference in Boise, Idaho, Highlights Growing Farm Use of Digesters with GE’s Jenbacher Biogas Engines to Produce Renewable Energy while Reducing Emissions
Bio Town Ag Operation in Indiana and Dane County “Cow Power” Facility in Wisconsin Among GE Biogas Projects to be Showcased
BOISE, IDAHO——With the environmental impacts of agricultural activities coming under greater scrutiny, Bio Town Ag in Indiana and a community “cow power” project in Dane County, Wis., are among a growing number of U.S. farms to install anaerobic digesters and GE’s (NYSE: GE) Jenbacher biogas engines to recycle livestock wastes into renewable electricity that is used to support onsite farm operations and rural transmission grids.
GE is showcasing its ecomagination-approved Jenbacher biogas engine technology at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual AgSTAR national conference in Boise, Idaho, May 10-12, 2011. Created by the EPA in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, AgSTAR promotes the installation of digesters to convert livestock waste and other agricultural biomass into methane-rich, renewable biogas. As a result, less methane is available to escape into the atmosphere.
“Biogas production systems are becoming increasingly important tools in helping farms reduce their on-site emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide,” said Roger George, general manager North America gas engines for GE Power & Water. “As federal and state governments work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase local renewable energy production, we expect even more farms across the country to install biogas to energy systems to help meet their operational and environmental requirements.”
In addition to reducing onsite emissions, agricultural biogas projects can help farmers comply with more stringent local water quality standards. By capturing agricultural wastes for biogas production, farmers can avoid the need to dispose these materials on their lands. As a result, lower levels of various biomass contaminants can potentially escape into nearby rivers, lakes and ponds.
GE’s biogas engine technology continues to be deployed at some of the country’s most innovative agricultural biogas projects, including the Bio Town Ag project in Indiana and a recently completed, multi-farm digester project in Dane County, Wis.:
Bio Town Ag community digester biogas project, Indiana:
Featuring three, 1-megawatt (MW) Jenbacher JMS 320 generator sets, Bio Town Ag marks GE’s so far largest U.S. agricultural biogas-to-energy project. The project also is the first to combine GE’s Jenbacher gen-set technology with advanced digester technology supplied by GHD, Inc., the largest U.S. supplier of agricultural anaerobic digesters.
Bio Town Ag is a livestock farm with 4,500 beef cattle and 800 sow swine, located in Reynolds, Ind., a corn, soybean, dairy and swine farming region that was previously dubbed “Bio Town USA” by Indiana’s governor. The farm is developing a 3.1-MW digester biogas-to-energy plant powered by GE’s Jenbacher engines to transform its livestock manure into renewable energy. Bio Town Ag also plans to recover solids for bedding, convert post-digestion liquids into fertilizer and recycle water for on-site uses.
“Our digester biogas-to-energy project is a centerpiece of Indiana’s efforts to showcase the various technologies that are available to help us recycle our agricultural biomass resources and produce renewable fuel for vehicles and cleaner electricity for our state and country,” said Brian Furrer, Bio Town Ag president and CEO.
“GHD is proud to be involved in the BioTown Ag project, which will bring a true community anaerobic digester to fruition,” said Steve Dvorak, president of Chilton, Wis.-based GHD.
“The digester will process farm waste, as well as wastes from the surrounding community, to produce renewable electricity on a local scale. This project creates jobs, provides social benefits for the community and generates additional, viable business opportunities for agriculture.”
Dane County community dairy farm “cow power” project, Wisconsin:
Three family-run dairy farms in Dane County are participating in Wisconsin’s first “cluster” manure-digester project located near Waunakee. The project was launched by the county in 2010 under a “Clean Energy and Clean Lakes Resolution” to build a community digester.
Wisconsin-based biogas energy developer Clear Horizons LLC built, owns and operates the project. A total of 2,500 cows are supplying the manure, which is collected in three, 1.25 million gallon digesters. The biomass is converted into methane-rich biogas, which is then used by two, 1-MW Jenbacher JMC 320 gen-sets to generate renewable electricity that is sold to Alliant Energy under Wisconsin’s renewable portfolio standard.
In addition to renewable energy production, Dane County’s initiative is the first U.S. community digester specifically built to help farmers reduce biomass run-offs into surrounding freshwater bodies. Dane County’s digester removes much of the phosphorus from the livestock waste that had been linked to algae overgrowth in the Lake Mendota watershed.
“One of the keys to implementing successful biomass to energy projects is to work with technology partners like GE that have the expertise to offer cost-effective solutions that help projects optimize their rate of return ,” said Dan Nemke, general manager for Clear Horizons, which has installed Jenbacher engines for previous U.S. farm-to-energy projects.
Between its creation in 1993 and 2010, more than 160 manure digester projects have been installed in the United States with the AgSTAR program’s assistance. Opportunities for more agricultural digester-energy projects still exist at more than 8,000 U.S. livestock facilities, according to AgSTAR.
Many of GE’s Jenbacher products are ecomagination approved, providing customers with products that improve their operating performance and reduce environmental impact. Ecomagination is GE’s business strategy to help meet customers’ demand for products that improve their bottom line and reduce their impact on the environment. This also will drive growth for GE that delivers for its investors. Ecomagination reflects GE’s commitment to invest in a future that creates innovative solutions to environmental challenges. From 2010 to 2015, GE has committed to: doubling R&D to $ 10 billion; growing ecomagination revenues twice as fast as overall company revenue; reducing GE’s energy intensity 50 percent; reducing water consumption 25 percent; and inspiring a competitive energy future.
GE (NYSE: GE) is an advanced technology, services and finance company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. Dedicated to innovation in energy, health, transportation and infrastructure, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.ge.com.
GE also serves the energy sector by providing technology and service solutions that are based on a commitment to quality and innovation. The company continues to invest in new technology solutions and grow through strategic acquisitions to strengthen its local presence and better serve customers around the world. The businesses that comprise GE Energy GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas—work together with more than 90,000 global employees and 2010 revenues of $38 billion, to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; as well as other alternative fuels and new grid modernization technologies to meet 21st century energy needs.