At Glance – Anaerobic Technology in Canada

In a country with a large dairy industry, it is no wonder why Canadian dairy farmers are catching onto biogas technology. Biogas technology not only provides farmers with a way of getting rid of waste, but it provides a useful tool to generate gas which can in turn power their facility or be sold into the grid. In addition to all the government incentives out in the market right now, (Ontario FIT), biogas facilities pose other benefits to farmers and investors.

The anaerobic digester, the main component of the biogas system has a variety of benefits to the user:

a)      It provides an economical benefit

Converts something that is regularly viewed as useless and a burden into an economical asset (waste to energy) The gases produced can be utilized in threefold:

1.       Converted to energy and used to power the facility
2.       Gas produced is fed into the gas pipeline and pipeline purchases the gas
3.       Gas is converted to energy and fed back into the grid

  • The processed waste in turn can then be used afterwards as fertilizer.

b)      An environmental incentive

  • Less reliance on the grid and non-renewable energy to power high power demanding facilities

Although anaerobic digestion on the farm has many benefits, it is not a viable solution to all farmers. Economics plays the main role in whether or not a facility should be installed. Anaerobic digester systems can range from $25,000 (150 swine) to over $1.3 million (5,000 dairy), and the amount of methane produced within these facilities is largely dependent on the type of livestock you have, as well as the type of system, processes, and maintenance used.

The difference in the type of livestock manure has a huge disparity in the both the cost of the facility and the amount of methane produced. According to Baker (2001) the efficiency of Dairy manure compared to Poultry manure in methane composition is staggering, with dairy cows having more weight content and a higher gross energy content 27,800 Btu/head/day to 180 Btu/head/day. However, a poultry system can still be economically viable, even though it has lower methane/energy content when compared to dairy livestock.

Again, the economics of biogas systems is dependent on the type and quantity of livestock used. See table below for a comparison of the different gas and energy yields from various livestock. For more information visit the sources listed below!

(Government of Alberta, 2008)

References:

http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/anaerobic.html#risks

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex10945

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