Thursday, November 08, 2007

No bull: Texas plant makes natural gas from cow manure

Now this i like!...

From The Houston Chronicle:
The nation's largest manure-to-natural gas plant got up and running Monday in the heart of Texas dairy country, a project expected to produce enough energy to power 11,000 homes a year.

In a high-profile example of the growing need for alternative energy, Huckabay Ridge gets manure from local dairy farms, processes it with grease and other restaurant waste, purifies it and turns it into natural gas.

"The beauty is that you take the waste products and you create a useful form of energy," said Richard Kessel, president and CEO of Portsmouth, N.H.-based Environmental Power Corp. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Microgy Inc., owns the facility. "We look at these as non-depleting gas wells with a long-term supply of renewable energy."

The Lower Colorado River Authority buys the gas and uses it to power homes in Central Texas, officials said. Next fall, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will buy natural gas from Huckabay Ridge, which will generate the energy equivalent of 4.6 million gallons of oil annually.

"This is a turning point in agriculture. ... Agriculture is no longer just food and fiber; it is now food and fiber and fuel," state Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, said Monday at the plant's opening ceremony, where only a faint odor of manure wafted through the air. "Agriculture is going to responsible for producing a large percent of the world's fuel."

Huckabay Ridge is near Stephenville in rural Erath County, the state's top-producing dairy county. The state has about 335,000 dairy cows, including 52,000 in Erath County. Each dairy cow produces more than 15 gallons of manure per day.

The site had been a composting facility where farmers took manure. Now, more than a dozen farmers take their herds' waste there, paying only for transportation. The facility does not buy the manure or charge farmers to drop it off.

"It's a great thing for everybody," said John Traweek, whose family-run Jam Dot Dairy has been operating in nearby Lingleville for 45 years.
You can do this with any manure and I am all for it! Let's get the tons of manure from those giant pig farms turned into natural gas! There just isn't a downside to this one and I am wondering why it took so long?

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