Gas-to-energy project

Dairy Green agricultural and engineering consultant John Scandrett (left) explains the dairy...
Dairy Green agricultural and engineering consultant John Scandrett (left) explains the dairy methane recovery system at its official opening last week. Photo: supplied.
An Isla Bank dairy farm is saving money and  preventing harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere by converting waste to energy.

Glenarlea Farm, a Fortuna Group dairy farm,  is now converting methane gas captured from the dairy effluent pond into electricity for the dairy shed, as well as for heating water which can be used for wash-down purposes on the farm.

Venture Southland business and strategic projects general manager Steve Canny said last week’s official opening of the dairy methane recovery project at the farm marked a significant step towards a cleaner, more cost-effective dairy sector, not only in Southland but throughout New Zealand.

This project is a collective effort by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA),  National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), agricultural engineers Dairy Green, Venture Southland and the Fortuna Group, which contributed significant resources and the site for the system. The EECA provided support via its Technology Demonstration programme, which supports innovative technology that cuts energy use or greenhouse gas emissions.

EECA project director Bill Brander said this project fulfilled all of its criteria.

"It uses a waste product and captures the greenhouse gas methane, to produce electricity and hot water while saving the farmer money."

The Glenarlea Farm project is the southernmost application of the technology.

"Successful demonstration of the technology in a cooler climate like Southland will provide confidence it can work anywhere in New Zealand," Mr Brander said.

The EECA and Venture Southland will monitor the project, which is now  producing the predicted 50kW of electricity. The project partners were evaluating the costs and he expected the technology to be available to roll out across Southland farms next year.

"Depending on what effluent pond systems were already in place, the costs would vary. But with the savings in electricity from farmers being able to generate it themselves, the recovery system would eventually pay for itself," Mr Canny said.

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