Monday, October 26, 2009

Cow Power (Anaerobic Digesters)

Location: Vermont

Years: 2008-present

Organization: Central Vermont Public Service

WorldChanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century, p.64

One cow can produce over 30 gallons of manure a day. Instead of letting cow manure run into waterways and seep into the ground, the Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) has created a Cow Power Program, which turns cow manure into energy. An anaerobic digester is installed on a farm and, over a period of about twenty days, breaks down some of the collected poop’s solids into acids, which feed bacteria, which in turn digest the manure and produce biogas. The gas is then pushed through a pipe into a modified natural gas engine, and electricity generated by burning the gas is fed into the CVPS system. One cow’s waste can produce enough electricity to power two 100-watt light bulbs 24 hours a day. The digester also produces a low-odor slurry that makes a fertilizer that is safer than raw manure. Participating dairy farmers get an additional source of income.

Cow Power farms are located all across Vermont. There are currently six farms online and producing electricity in Bakersfield, Bridport, Richford, Sheldon, St. Albans and Newport. All the farms have well over 500 cows, and produce or are expected to produce between 0.78 and 3.5 million killowatt-hours of electricity a year.

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