Manure from 250,000 cows at a dairy farm in northeast China will fuel the world’s largest cow manure-fed biogas power project, planned to open in September, reports the New York Times. The Huishan Farm in Shenyang will generate 38,000 mWh of power annually, which will be sold to the state grid in China. The project is expected to reduce about 180,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
In addition, the residual from the methane digester will yield organic fertilizer.
General Electric will supply the four JMS420 Jenbacker biogas engines for the project. Michael Wagner, marketing leader with GE Energy told the New York Times that there is huge potential in this and is looking to expand globally.
The project solves a couple of problems — growing demand for electricity and the need to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
According to a recent U.N. report, the farm-to-table carbon footprint of the dairy sector accounts for 4 percent of GHG emissions globally, reports the New York Times.
But biogas is not new in China with 1,500 large-scale biogas plants or digesters at livestock farms and industrial waste sites. China wants 300 million rural residents to use biogas electricity by 2020, according to a 2007 plan from the National Development and Reform Commission, reports the New York Times.
In the U.S., livestock digesters lag behind, although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to change the trend. Both agencies recently announced a partnership, aimed at helping farmers turn methane emissions from livestock operations into a renewable energy source.
Currently, about 150 on-farm manure or anaerobic digesters are now operating at livestock facilities but the EPA estimates there are about 8,000 farms across the U.S. that are good candidates for capturing and using biogas.
The U.S. dairy industry set a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 25 percent over the next decade, in part by turning methane gas from livestock manure into electricity.