Manure energy becomes reality for New York
Methane digesters on dairy farms could soon be a common
source of energy for residents and businesses in the
state of New York. That is one result of the Dairy Power
Summit in Syracuse, New York, which brought together
more than 200 New York dairy farmers and industry stakeholders
from across the country to discuss the potential for
dairy-supplied renewable energy.
Summit attendees set a 2020 goal that 40 percent of all
manure from New York dairy farms goes through the anaerobic
digestion process, which captures methane from manure
and generates clean, renewable energy. The energy produced
from this effort could power 32,000 homes while strengthening
the economic vitality of New York’s dairy farms. It also
would reduce New York’s greenhouse gas emissions by 500,000
metric tons of carbon, equivalent to taking 100,000 cars
off the road.
The Innovation Center for United States Dairy, with sponsorship
from GE Energy, coordinated the Dairy Power Summit in
order to identify and act on opportunities to increase
anaerobic digester adoption by dairy farms of all sizes.
Participants represented dairy farms, utilities, milk
cooperatives, digester developers, financial institutions,
academia, and local, state and federal governments.
Governor Paterson’s “45 by 15” program is one of the
nation’s most aggressive energy efficiency and renewable
energy initiatives. By 2015, New York State will meet
45 percent of its electricity needs through improved
energy efficiency (15 percent) and clean renewable energy,
such as methane (30 percent). This goal is in line with
the commitment of the Innovation Center for United States
Dairy to reduce industrywide greenhouse gas emissions
associated with fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020.
To achieve 40 percent anaerobic digester use by 2020,
attendees of the summit collaborated to develop an action
plan made up of more than a dozen projects. Some of the
American Agricultural Biogas Coalition – Form a
nationwide, cross-industry alliance to provide
a unified voice promoting renewable, sustainable
biogas solutions. This new organization would advocate
at the local, state and national levels.
Small-Farm Digester Initiative – Host an innovation
contest that would award $1 million toward the development
of a digester system for a smaller-scale farm with
between two and 200 cows.
NY Cow Power – Develop a voluntary rate-payer program
to enable electric consumers to support anaerobic
digesters (e.g., residential or commercial customers
pay 4 cents per kWh extra on utility bills to help
fund digesters). This program would be modeled
on the successful program of Central Vermont Public
Digester Implementation Project – Collaborate with
20 farms to issue a joint request for proposal
to install 20 digesters. This will reduce the cost
and complexity that farmers could experience individually.
Model Community Digester System – Develop a best-in-class
model for a community digester. Projects will be
explored in Lowville, New York, and potentially
near Skaneateles, New York.
Rolling Biogas – Research opportunities to clean
and compress biogas for use as natural gas in vehicles,
a viable alternative to diesel fuel.
While the summit primarily focused on anaerobic digester
opportunities in the state of New York, these pilot projects
could lead to solutions for farms and communities across