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Anaerobic digestion facility set to be largest of its kind in New England

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A new anaerobic digestion facility at a dairy farm in Vermont, US is set to be completed in 2020.

The four organisations behind the project, Vanguard Renewables, Goodrich Farm, Middlebury College and Vermont Gas, gathered at the site on 20 August to celebrate the ground breaking for the new facility which will convert manure and food waste into renewable energy.

Goodrich Farm, which is home to 900 milking cows, will soon become Vermont’s first local source of pipeline-ready methane or natural gas. The product will be refined from a mixture of manure and dairy factory food waste and pumped to a Vermont Gas Systems distribution line.

The digester is expected to produce 180,000 Mcf every year. Middlebury College, which formerly relied on fossil fuels, will buy 100,000 Mcf of the gas from Vanguard, and Vermont Gas will buy 40,000 Mcf.

David Provost, Middlebury College’s executive vice-president for finance and administration, said: “One of the key components of Middlebury’s Energy 2028 plan is to shift the college completely to the use of renewable energy. The digester is fundamental to this change.”

Vanguard Renewables will build, own and operate the digester, which will process around 100 tonnes of manure and 180 tonnes of organic food waste daily into renewable natural gas. Once the project is completed in 2020, the anaerobic digester at Goodrich Farm will be the largest of its kind in New England.

Goodrich Farm will benefit from the new digester in several ways, including free heat for farm use, high-quality liquid fertiliser to reduce dependency on chemical alternatives, and a reduction in the farm’s phosphorus levels and greenhouse gas emissions. Chase Goodrich, whose family owns the farm, said: “Our family is excited to see this project transition from a dream into reality.

“The digester has been under discussion for a very long time, and now we could not be more encouraged to move our farm in a new direction.”

John Hanselman, executive chairman and CEO of Vanguard Renewables, added: “This is a unique partnership between a Vermont college, local dairy farm, utility and renewable energy company.

“The exciting result will be a sustainable source of energy that didn’t previously exist and the recycling of tonnes of organic waste that was once sent to landfills.”