In recent years, we have been learning why it is important to make the move over to renewable energy sources. Right across the US, various schemes and programs are responsible for the main sources of renewable energy such as wind power, hydropower, solar power, and bio-power. However, there are also renewable energy sources of which you may not have heard or even seen in action! For example, the US farming industry is currently and is planning to further use cow manure to generate electricity for homes!
When you think of a farm, one of the early thoughts that springs to mind is the sheer amount of manure. For many, this is a huge problem, but more and more farms are now creating biogas recovery systems that take the cow manure and transform it into…electricity! First seen in Plymouth, Indiana, one farm is said to have the capacity to power around 1,000 homes! Although this seems small, it could soon make a significant contribution to our planet if more farms were to introduce the system.
Cow Manure, More Benefits Than You Think!
In truth, there are many benefits for a farm to use this system. Benefits include recycling of cow manure and even the removal of odor for the locals. Essentially, the system includes a huge shed which speeds up decomposition using heat. Within this shed, the smell and greenhouse gases are contained and everyone nearby will see the advantages of such a system.
So far, upwards of 250 farms have introduced biogas recovery systems. If we take this number and apply it to something common like the amount of cars on the road, it is the equivalent of removing over 630,000 cars instantly! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this is a great start. However, there is still a potential for biogas recovery systems to reach around 8,000 diary and hog farms across the United States. If all of these used the system, around one million homes could receive electricity in this way and we could remove the equivalent of four million cars from the road.
Every Little Change Helps!
As you can see, this is a subtle change. This is helping our planet as well as improving the life of those who reside nearby. In terms of the biogas recovery system itself, there is potential to take it even further since it works wherever methane exists. With this in mind, it could be used to capture the methane at sewer treatment plants and landfills. Surprisingly, it could even make a difference if placed within craft beer companies.
According to a representative from the EPA, the biggest problem that we face in the journey is the initial cost. Since the investment is rather large, many farms are struggling to even consider the idea. However, there is movement at a federal government level. This could mean that investment and help will come in the years ahead. Currently, the most important factor is getting information out there.
For one farmer in particular, in Indiana, he expects to recover all of his costs in around five years since he has taken the initiative to ask local restaurants and food processing plants to dump their waste at his location. In Europe, the system is proving to be much more successful but this could be because of the subsidies available as well as the more expensive electricity. Regardless, there is potential for biogas recovery systems to have a huge impact on the farming industry as well as our beautiful planet very soon!
“Biogas Opportunities Roadmap.” (n.d.): n. pag. USDA, Aug. 2014. Web. <https://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/energy/Biogas_Opportunities_Roadmap_8-1-14.pdf>.
“Cow Manure Powers 1,000 Homes.” The Electrochemical Society. ECS, 17 Aug. 2015. Web. 09 Jan. 2017. <http://www.electrochem.org/redcat-blog/tag/biogas-recovery-system/>.
“Learn About Biogas Recovery.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 15 June 2016. Web. 09 Jan. 2017. <https://www.epa.gov/agstar/learn-about-biogas-recovery>.