The New Zealand company, along with Dairy Green, is working on the country’s methane recovery system.
The partnership’s plant at Glenarlea Farms in Otautau generates electricity from methane.
The methane recovery system is similar to most modern dairy farm effluent systems, except for an additional covered pond where methane is produced and captured.
This methane is then sucked from the pond to a generator shed, where it is used to power a biogas generator, generating electricity. Along with power from the grid, this electricity is used to run the dairy farm and reduces power costs while remaining an environmentally sustainable option.
In the spring of 2016, the generator was run up to 16 hours per day to keep up with the gas production. The generator produced 30 kW electrical power and the motor 60 kW hot water for each hour it ran.
Fortuna Group CEO David Dodunski said technologies, such as the methane recovery plant, need to be accessible for dairy farmers.
Helping farms with affordability
Fortuna Group said it is calling on those who could be key to unlocking the next phase of sustainable dairy farming, as providing New Zealand’s dairy farms with a methane recovery plant costs NZ$100,000 (US$73,000).
With the savings made from the methane plant producing electricity for the farm, these costs would be recouped in about five years.
“There’s 12,000 dairy farms across New Zealand – imagine if that technology was so affordable for farmers, leading to them all supplying power back into the grid,” Dodunski said.
But to do this, he added, the project needs the support of companies such as electricity providers to come on board. Currently, the cost of installing a methane recovery plant comes in above Fortuna Group’s goal of $100,000, rendering the technology inaccessible for many dairy farmers.
“This is a scalable technology and we want it to be low-cost, but we need help to do that,” he said.
“It’s an attainable future we can provide for farmers, if we can get the right people and companies on board to help us.”