On March 15, 2018, more than 45 diverse stakeholders, including dairy farmers, industry associations, government agencies, and local community groups, attended an Open House at Harcolm Farms in Beachville, Ontario for one reason: to celebrate the first installation in North America of a small, factory built farm-scale anaerobic digester that captures methane from dairy cattle manure and converts it into renewable biogas.
“I was so thrilled to hear about this operation: a Carbon Neutral Farm in rural Ontario. This project is a perfect example of how we are using the proceeds from our Cap and Trade to benefit farmers and reduce GHG emissions in Ontario”, says Arthur Potts, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
This demonstration project involves an interesting partnership between Harcolm Farms as the end-use customer and Wayside Energy as the innovative supplier. Other project partners include Biolectric and the Martin Energy Group, which will be providing on-going technical and operational support services. According to John Hawkes of Martin Energy, “what we’re trying to do here is off-set every bit of fossil fuel use that the farmer would have.”
The pocket digester system was built by Biolectric at its manufacturing facility in Belgium. It consists of a pre-packaged 20 foot container and a reactor vessel that was assembled on-site in three days by the project team and local contractors. A substantial number of changes were made to comply with government regulations such as Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) and Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) requirements.
The whole system is mounted on a concrete pad adjacent to the cattle barn. Two ‘gensets’ (10 kW each) utilize the biogas produced by the digester: one generates electricity to meet all the power needs of the farm while the other ‘sells’ electricity back into the grid. Beyond electricity generation, the system also recovers waste heat to be used to heat the farm buildings. Bringing further value, the solid digestate will be used for animal bedding with the liquid digestate applied to the fields as a nitrogen supplement.
According to Rob McKinlay of Harcolm Farms, “Getting off-the-grid to generate our own renewable energy and closing the loop in managing our manure just makes sense. This is a self-contained solution where all outputs are captured to make better use of them and add value to our business.”
“The innovation space in Ontario has allowed for the first deployment of this technology in North America” said Jake DeBruyn, Engineer, New Technology Integration, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “This is a great example of a farmer that was willing to take some risk to demonstrate a new technology, with a result that other farmers can see and learn from it.”
According to John Hawkes, “Ontario is home to an estimated 3,700 dairy farms, with an average size of 80 milking cows. This smaller-scale system will enable a larger number of dairy producers to adopt this technology to become energy self-sufficient and to improve their operations.”
It’s a win-win-win situation. It’s a win for the climate, it’s a win for the farmer, and it’s also a win for the local utility.” John Hawkes, Martin Energy Group
“A project like this is really exciting for small-scale producers” says Sarah Stadnyk of the Canadian Biogas Association. “It shows that biogas is a viable solution and that it is a commercial product ready for deployment today.” Rob agrees, “Once we fully demonstrate and show that this technology works for our farm, it ought to work for any farm.”
Kevin Jones, President and CEO, BLOOM, says “What is exciting about this demonstration project is that it is bringing the key stakeholders together to learn about this innovative on-site solution, the benefits it provides and how it can be adopted by other similar-sized farms across Ontario.”
For further information contact:
Kevin Jones, President and CEO
Tel: 905-842-1115 ext. 228
This demonstration Project is part of the BLOOM Clean Technology
Demonstration Program with support from the Government of Ontario.
About BLOOM: Making it Easier. Clean and Simple. BLOOM is a recognized and trusted authority on sustainability and clean technology solutions. BLOOM works actively with Ontario stakeholders to adopt practical and affordable low carbon solutions that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. Follow BLOOM on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.