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Onsite Biogas Power Solution Helps U.S. Dairy Farmers Reduce Site Emissions

Posted on July 27, 2009

In the US, Wisconsin’s dairy industry is leading the way in demonstrating the benefits of using cow manure methane digester biogas. A growing number of dairy farms in Wisconsin have installed GE Energy’s Jenbacher biogas engines to generate needed renewable electricity for onsite power and the local grid. In May 2009, a Jenbacher J312 biogas engines was commissioned at the Crave Brothers Farm, LLC in Waterloo, Wisc.and is currently generating 633 kW of electricity to support the site’s dairy operations. Surplus power from the engine is being sold to the regional grid in Wisconsin.

“Installing GE Energy’s Jenbacher biogas technology is playing an important role in our ongoing initiatives to reduce the operational costs as well as the environmental impacts of our dairy operations,” said Charles Crave, one of the farm’s co-owners. “We hope that other dairy farms around the country adopt similar technologies in recognition of the agricultural community’s increasingly important role in addressing the country’s energy and climate-change concerns.”

Crave Brothers is a 29-year-old, family run dairy farm and on-site cheese plant that is nationally known for its progressive use of technologies to reduce the environmental impacts of its operations. The 1,700-acre farm currently has nearly 1,000 milk cows and 700 heifers. By converting the manure to methane biogas and using it to generate electricity, less greenhouse gas is able to escape into the atmosphere. The system also is helping Crave Brothers lower its operational costs, including through the sale of energy to the regional grid and more cost-effective manure management.

Widely accepted in Europe, the use of biogas digester systems with GE’s Jenbacher engines is a fairly new U.S. agri-business trend. In the past, some U.S. farmers had used old diesel motors and smaller gas engines until they began installing more durable, robust gas engines in recent years. Crave Brothers is the host of the 2009 Farm Technology Days, one of the country’s largest agricultural technology expositions. More than 80,000 people are expected to visit the Crave Brothers site, which is located about an hour west of Milwaukee.

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