Dairy farm biogas project gets $15 million grant

BC Organics, developer of a bioenergy system that will produce renewable gas from dairy farm manure and other waste, has received a conditional $15 million (€12.5 million) Focus on Energy grant from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC).

The Brown County, Wisconsin based project will reduce the need to landspread raw manure, protect sensitive groundwater and surface waters in north eastern Wisconsin, and provide economic benefits to participating farms, according to a statement from PSC.

BC Organics’ project will see multiple anaerobic digesters constructed with the capability to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure, food waste, and eventually landfill gas. When in operation, it is estimated the project could generate an energy output of 5.7 million therms, equivalent to the home heating needs for 7,600 Wisconsin homes. The RNG meanwhile, will be injected into the interstate natural gas pipeline system for use as heating and transportation fuel.

Benefits beyond energy

As well as generating fuel and power, the project will improve water quality in surface and groundwater in Brown, Kewaunee, Calumet and Door counties using advanced nutrient separation technologies to treat the wastewater and produce a range of other by-products, including liquid fertiliser.

When fully operational the project will remove 577,837 pounds of phosphorus and generate 163 million gallons of clean water annually.

According to the PSC statement, the BC Organics project could provide a model for eliminating the need to spread raw manure on the land, providing a framework that could be replicated elsewhere in the state.

“Specifically, it will help farmers reduce the water quality impacts of dairy farming in the karst region of northeastern Wisconsin by: reducing or eliminating the need to spread manure and overtopping lagoons; removing phosphorus from the waste stream; improving the efficiency of uptake of nutrients by plants; and virtually eliminating the pathogens in treated manure,” the PSC statement explained.

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