U.S. Dairy Uses Renewable Energy from Manure

Green Valley Dairy in Krakow, Wisconsin, generates approximately four million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a year, using manure from 2,500 head of cattle. That is enough to power about 400 average Wisconsin homes for one year.

Heat and electricity are produced from a renewable energy technology called anaerobic digestion, which occurs in an enclosed tank system. By excluding oxygen, through which manure is passed and broken down by naturally occurring bacteria, biogas is produced. The resulting methane can heat barns, offices, power lighting and electrical needs. “As electricity prices continue to rise in Wisconsin and the costs of renewable energy systems continue to fall, a growing number of the state’s large farms are implementing anaerobic digestion to reduce their utility bills and improve the environmental performance on the farm,” said Rod Nilsestuen, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, who visited the dairy in the end of March to see the process in action. The cost of the anaerobic digestion project exceeded $2 million, and was offset by a $179,700 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture and $45,000 from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s renewable energy and energy efficiency initiative, which also provided technical assistance throughout installation. “Focus on Energy has a network of experts across the state and offers a variety of programs to help anyone plan, finance and install renewable energy systems like these two impressive digesters,” said Kimberly Walker, administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Energy. By supporting Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program has made the sun, wind, water and organic materials a bigger part of Wisconsin’s energy mix, helping to ensure that Wisconsin’s residents and businesses have reliable and affordable sources of energy.
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