Biotown Ag, Inc. is Turning Beef into Green Energy

Biotown Ag, Inc. is a farm that raises beef. Alot of beef! Five thousand head, in fact.  Biotown Ag has been innovative in their method of feeding and raising beef, processing beef waste through an anaerobic digester, using the waste gas for power generation, and then using the digester remnant for its fertilizer content and applying it to tillable soil.  The harvested grain that benefited from the fertilizer is then fed back to the beef (again).  Talk about closing the loop!

Jenbacher plays a major role at Biotown Ag.  These are the European, ultra-high efficiency generators that produce electricity from the biogas.  The kW-hrs produced are then pushed onto the utility grid.  A revenue grade meter captures the amount of kW-hrs produced, and the farm generates revenue by creating this green energy source.

LEC has had a couple different roles at Biotown Ag as it applies to the gas produced by the anaerobic digester.  The first role was to help Biotown Ag navigate connecting their generators to the utility grid.  This involved 15kV metering, relaying and controls.  The second role came later.  Interestingly, it isn’t the role that might come to mind…

Here’s the curveball:  at the same time the Jenbacher power plant is pushing electricity out onto the utility grid, the farm is consuming a certain amount of that electricity to run its operations.  But the farm doesn’t want to sacrifice the green energy for its own use.  It benefits the most by pushing all of that power onto the grid.

So what is an operator to do?  There are probably multiple solutions to the problem, but here is how Biotown Ag elected to handle the problem:  bring on additional on-site power generation, running on pipeline natural gas or biogas, to offset the parasitic farm loads.  By doing this, the green energy output to the grid is maximized.

Now that sounds great, but it is all blended onto a single utility service.  How do we know all the power going to the grid is green energy?  This is where LEC came in.

LEC developed PLC-based controls along with revenue-grade meters at certain strategic points within the farm.  The controls utilize an expansive fiber optic network to reach the different areas of the farm.  The PLC-based controls calculate the farm parasitic loads and run the supplemental generators to offset those loads with a built-in bit of margin to assure that every last drop of power going out onto the utility grid is green energy.  The PLC-based controls provide historic trend graphs that back this up with real data.

This strategy has been an effective means for Biotown to wring out as much revenue as possible from their biogas investment.  What can LEC do for you?