Manure may be a smelly drawback to owning horses, but with continuous research into green energy sources, there has been a rise in interest in harnessing those gases that so offend the nose.
Anaerobic digesters take in the manure and blend it in a large tank with bacteria, leaving it to decompose. As it does, methane is formed. Methane, like other natural gases, can power gas turbines for electricity generation or be burned for heat. Another way of harnessing manure’s potential energy is to create biodiesel.
Manure digesters have become cost effective enough to be practical for small and large dairy and horse farms. They can be setup to run, much like solar power, as an isolated system, or tied into the power grid.
A small manure digester can process four horses’ worth of manure and bedding per day and generate about 7,150 Kilowatt hours (kWh’s) of energy annually. (The average American household uses about 11,000 kWh) And of course there is an additional cost benefit for horse owners who currently pay to have their manure removed. The technology has the potential to convert large dairy farms into full-scale power plants.
With systems such as these, the ease installation, size, and location of the property are all-important in determining the challenges and costs of the project. There is not one solution for all facilities, and there are a variety of solutions for each farm. But, as technology increases, and the cost of oil and environmental problems and awareness rise, there are sure to be many ways to employ green energy solutions on your farm.