Hard work and dedication over the past 13 years finally paid off for a father-son farming team with the creation of a machine that uses methane to produce power.
Southland farmers John and Quinton Scandrett have worked tirelessly to create a solution for powering their cow shed and for heating water for the farm.
Keeps Harmful Methane Gas out of the Atmosphere
In the end, a machine was created that extracts greenhouse gases from effluent, and changes them into carbon dioxide at his Isla Bank property, Glenarlea Farm.
An Environmental Game Changer for Farmers
Using the farm’s effluent pond which contains wash-out from the milking shed, a black liner traps methane gas, which is then fed through a generator to create electricity. In addition, hot water (at 91degC) is produced which is used for cleaning the farm.
The more animal manure produced, the more energy can be created. A herd of 400 cows is estimated to produce enough energy to produce hot water only, but 800-850 cows would be able to create a full electricity generating set-up. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be reduced by about 30% using the system.
Challenges with Effluent Ponds
One of the main challenges with creating electricity using this process is to keep effluent ponds well insulated. Cooler temperatures slow the natural bacteria, which produces the methane. The pond at Glenarlea Farm had been built with this in mind, but existing effluent ponds could be retrofitted with the technology.
However, since Southland typically has cooler climate, successful use of this technology there means that it can work basically anywhere throughout New Zealand.
New Technology Means Cost Savings for Farmers
Other Southland farmers can anticipate the technology to be available for their farms next year. Although installation costs will vary depending on the effluent pond system currently in place, the electricity savings from the recovery will eventually pay off.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland are currently monitoring the project to see what the actual economic payback would be.
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