April 18, 2008

Producing Electricity From Cow Power

There is a very interesting article by Molly Farrell Tucker in BioCycle Magazine about a program in Vermont to produce electricity from cow manure.

THROUGH its award-winning Cow Power program, Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), a Vermont utility headquartered in the city of Rutland, is helping dairy farmers diversify their incomes by turning manure into electricity. The farmers process manure in anaerobic digesters to generate power, which CVPS customers voluntarily pay a premium to purchase. In addition to income from electricity sales, farmers are reaping other benefits from digesting the manure, including capturing surplus heat for their farms and hot water, using the fibers separated from manure for animal bedding and compost production, reducing pathogens and weed seeds, and improving air and water quality.

One of the participating farmers summed up the benefits this way.

“Digesting the manure is providing bedding for the herd, diversifying the farm’s income, reducing manure odors, improving water and air quality and reducing methane emissions to the atmosphere,” says Bill Rowell.

The article does a very good job explaining the program along with the benefits and expenses. Central Vermont Public Service also has a page devoted to the Cow Power program which is very informative.

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