Executive Director, Renewable Energy Division, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Two exciting renewable energy projects are currently under construction at dairy farms in Massachusetts. When completed this spring, they will be the first ever in the state to produce electricity from cow manure!
AGreen Energy: Five dairy farms from across Massachusetts have joined together for a project at the Jordan family dairy farm in Rutland that will produce methane gas using “anaerobic digestion” – a non-combustion process by which natural microorganisms break down organic material like cow manure into liquid fertilizer, fibrous solid material (which will be used as animal bedding), and methane gas. This is a great way to manage the manure generated on dairy farms in an environmentally friendly way. The methane gas will be fed into a generator that will produce heat for the farm and 300 kW of electricity – enough to power more than 130 homes every year. It will also provide welcome financial support to five family dairy farms. MassCEC helped this project with $360,000 toward feasibility studies, design, and construction costs, and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources contributed over $100,000 toward other project costs. Rutland’s Select Board voted unanimously to license the project.
“Rutland has always been fiercely proud of its farms, and has been a Right To Farm Community for several years now. The digester project at Jordan’s is just fantastic,” said Sheila Dibb, Chair of Rutland’s Select Board. “It brilliantly shows how local, family-owned farms can embrace diversification projects that are both good for the environment and financially beneficial to the farm. We wish them all the best, and are eagerly looking forward to the ‘grand opening’!”
Pine Island Farm: Pine Island Farm, a 710-cow farm in Sheffield, will be home to a 178 kW generator using a similar process to the one at Jordan Dairy. MassCEC provided over $500,000 toward the cost of this project.
David Cash, Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, says anaerobic digestion is a win-win-win-win.
“Not only does this technology help the bottom line for farmers, keep cow manure from running off into streams and trap harmful methane gases produced by the natural breakdown of organic waste,” he said, “but these projects will also produce clean, renewable energy to offset emissions from power plants. We hope to see more of these projects developed in the Commonwealth.”
The photos are of the digester under construction at Jordan Dairy Farm in December, 2010.
Solar a “No-Go” on Your Roof? Share Through Community Solar posted on Jul 16
Harvard residents who wanted solar on their homes and were unable to get it due to shading, sloping, or structural barriers, found a solution by sharing the Harvard Solar Garden, an approximately 250 kW project, provides 41 residents and six small businesses with sustainable, clean energy. .
Summer’s Here: Shed Layers and Shed Loads posted on Jul 11
Electricity usage throughout New England reaches its peak during summer heat waves, causing our electricity bills to spike. During periods of high demand, electric utilities typically call on more expensive “peaking” plants to provide extra power. These costs are passed onto larger, non-residential consumers through demand charges on their monthly electricity bill. Municipal buildings can save a significant sum of money if they shut off portions of their electricity during these peak periods.
Massachusetts Rebates Supercharge Electric Vehicle Market posted on Jul 7
The MOR-EV initiative provides rebates of up to $2,500 for electric, fuel cell vehicles and plug-in vehicles with large batteries, and $1,500 for plug-in electric vehicles with smaller batteries. All Massachusetts residents are eligible to receive incentives on purchased and leased new electric vehicles until the rebate funds are gone.