This small town north of London is on its way to becoming a more sustainable community thanks to a nearby dairy farm. On Friday, municipal, provincial, and federal government officials joined industry representatives at Stanton Farms to launch its newly expanded renewable natural gas plant that converts organic waste into fuel.
The project, completed in partnership with pipeline operator Enbridge Gas, makes the five-generation family farm the only farm-based renewable natural gas supplier to plug into the provincial power grid.
“It’s exciting; we’re very pleased with it,” said Laurie Stanton, president of the Stanton Farms, a 3,000-cow dairy operation.
“We’ve had tremendous support, but it’s taken some time. There were some regulations that needed to be changed and getting support from other partners to make the whole project go,” he said.
Stanton Farms built one of the country’s first on-farm digestion systems for biogas more than 10 years ago, a move that has helped supply the town of Ilderton with renewable electricity.
With its second biodigester, the farm will produce more than three million cubic meters of renewable natural gas (RNG) each year to be plugged into the Enbridge natural gas distribution system. That’s enough energy to heat more than 1,300 homes, industry officials said in a statement.
Each farm digestor uses a process known as anaerobic digestion to convert the organic waste – sourced off-farm primarily from food processors and on-farm from manure and livestock bedding – into biogas that consists of methane and carbon dioxide. The methane is separated and collected before entering one of two routes, said Stanton.
“One route goes to generators that generate electricity. So, that initial digester generates about a megawatt of renewable electricity,” he said. The second digester produces the same biogas that instead flows to “a cleanup facility to get it up to pipeline quality.”
The biogas, which contains about a 65 per cent mix of methane and carbon dioxide, undergoes a cleaning process to bring it up to a 98 per cent methane standard before it flows into the natural gas distribution system.
With the expanded biogas plant, Stanton Farms annually will divert 60,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill and capture more than 11,000 tonnes of methane – a major greenhouse gas – for use as energy.
“This is a model not only for Ontario, but for Canada,” said Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.
“This project alone is (like) taking 2,200 vehicles off the road. These are common-sense renewable projects that our government is supporting, and we want to see more of these across the province,” he said.
Aina DeViet, mayor of Middlesex Centre that takes in the Ilderton area, applauded Stanton Farms’ dedication to the environment during the years.
“Middlesex Centre is a rural community with strong farming traditions, but don’t for a minute be caught up in the stereotype of what it means to be rural or a farming community,” she said during the news conference Friday.
“This project highlights innovation and the forward-thinking we see in our agri-business sector and (does so) with an eye toward economic and environmental sustainability.”
Source: The London Free Press