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Turning poo into power

Fiordland Advocate

The biogas setup at Glenarlea Farms pipes the gas collected beneath the covered effluent pond to a conversion generator. From the sustainable energy, hot water is produced from the generator exhaust manifold. The system seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Venture Southland has praised the Southland farm for being the first to optimise the conversion of bio-waste to on-farm energy.

Venture Southland business and strategic projects general manager Steven Canny said the farm project run by Dairy Green could produce 50kW of energy every year – around five to six times that used by a normal household.

“We had a workshop in 2012 that really stimulated the first discussion for it. The aim has been to get this up and running and demonstrating it’s possible for Southland.”

Mr Canny said the beauty of this project was that it was just using the pond that every dairy farm had to create energy.

“It’s an elegant solution.”

Although not completely off-grid, Glenarlea now uses the energy created from the pond to power things like the hot and cold water to wash down the milking shed.It’s expected it will take about six years for the system to pay for itself.

Dairy Green consultant engineer and project facilitator John Scandrett said using a pond as a source of energy was a new concept.

“This isn’t conventional technology … it has been a steep learning curve all the way.”

Mr Scandrett said he would recommend the bio-gas energy conversion system to other farmers in the region. “I don’t see why not.”

Mr Scandrett’s son and fellow facilitator Quinton Scandrett said it has taken about two years to get the farm to where it was today because the way they used the cutting-edge technology hasn’t been done before, as well as getting a suitable team together.

The farm is just over 300ha in size with over 900 cows and the bio-gas plant became fully operational in the last fortnight.

“It was a very surreal feeling; it has been a long time coming.It still doesn’t feel real,’” he said.

Quinton Scandrett said a lot of clients were waiting I the wings to establish the waste conversion system on their farms.

“I think this one will keep us busy for a while”.