Cow Pie - or Renewable Energy?

What is biogas?

Biogas is created when manure is placed in a machine called a "biodigester," designed to capture methane gas released by decomposing material. A dairy farmer, for example, could use a biodigester to help resolve a farms biggest solid waste problem: manure disposal.

When properly treated, biogas can be used to generate electricity or eventually added to a pipeline system and used in homes and businesses. Currently, biogas can be produced only in limited quantities, and NW Natural hopes that through Smart Energy biogas can become a viable, renewable energy source for our region.

Environmental benefits

  • By capturing the methane from manure, biogas projects can protect the atmosphere from substantial emissions of a gas strongly associated with climate change.
  • A typical cow produces 120 pounds of waste each day, which as it decomposes, releases methane gas. There are approximately 120,000 dairy cows in Oregon on 350 dairy farms.* That means that over 14.4 million pounds of cow waste is generated in Oregon every single day. Methane from manure is a 21 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
  • Biodigesters can keep manure and bacteria out of streams, lakes and groundwater.
  • Small local farms benefit by receiving financial support and by generating energy for their own use.
  • Biodigesters also eliminate odors and other issues associated with manure collection.

*Dairy Farmers of Oregon. www.dairyfarmersor.com