North America, On Site Renewables, Renewables

On-site biogas generators supply power to US dairy farmers

Crave Brothers Farm in Waterloo, near Milwaukee, is the latest of several dairy farms in Wisconsin, US to have biogas engines from GE Energy’s Jenbacher installed to generate renewable electricity for on-site power loads and for export to the local grid.

Crave Brothers is a family run dairy farm and on-site cheese plant that is nationally known for its progressive use of technologies to reduce the environmental impacts of its operations.

By converting manure to methane biogas and using it to generate electricity in the GE Jenbacher unit, less greenhouse gas is able to escape into the atmosphere. The system also is helping Crave Brothers lower its operational costs, including through the sale of energy to the regional grid and more cost-effective manure management.

Crave Brothers had originally operated an older, less powerful biogas system to support some of the farm’s electricity requirements. However, the owners later installed GE Jenbacher technology after deciding they could be generating even more electricity with a more powerful engine.

In May, one of GE’s Jenbacher J312 biogas engines was commissioned at the site and is generating 633 kW of electricity to support the site’s dairy operations. Surplus power from the engine is being sold to the regional grid in Wisconsin, which is aggressively supporting the expansion of renewable energy production, says GE.

Renewable energy developer Clear Horizons, which built and owns the digester biogas plant at the Crave Brothers site, is supplying the engine’s electricity to regional grid operator WE Energies, the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and Wisconsin Gas LLC, the principal utility subsidiaries of Wisconsin Energy Corporation.

Widely accepted in Europe, the use of biogas digester systems with GE’s Jenbacher engines is a fairly new US agri-business trend, adds GE Energy.