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Exciting and innovative development for small family farms

Posted by The NativeEnergy Team on Feb 26, 2010
Tags: carbon projects, farm methane

NativeEnergy recently won a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to develop a small cluster of “farm-methane to energy” projects on five dairy farms near Greensburg in Southwestern Pennsylvania. These family-owned farms (Hopeway Dairy, Kepple Farm, Lone Oak Farm, Selembo Dairy, and the Lone Star Farm) are home to approximately 1,000 milking and dry cows. This multi-site cluster development would make it possible to construct the digesters on these smaller dairies. It would be far too expensive for each dairy to develop a project individually. This is an exciting development as small, family-owned farms struggle to continue operating in difficult economic times.

NativeEnergy would implement an innovative project structure for the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution. The project will coordinate the construction of anaerobic digesters for manure conversion and on-farm electricity generation. NativeEnergy will construct and operate the digesters for an initial term for 10 years and then transfer the assets directly to the farms.

“We are excited to move forward with this innovative project,” said Tom Rawls, VP of marketing & sales. “And we are actively looking for a sponsor or sponsors to help build the project. It combines greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy and is another example of how together we can make the transition to a cleaner economy.”

This project would create sustainable development benefits by reducing operational costs on the farms, producing enough clean and renewable energy to power all of the farms’ operations, producing excess heat from the engine that will be used to heat water and buildings on the farm, and reducing the need for purchased fossil fuel. In addition, improved manure management will significantly reduce farm runoff, odor and pathogens, and the project will produce all of the cow bedding needed by the farms, greatly reducing the cost of animal bedding. 

Sean Breen, director of supply and origination who is leading the project, said, “Of course it is satisfying to work on a clean-tech development like this, but even more important to me, personally, is the opportunity to work with the farmers and their families and do something that helps them continue farming.”

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