CONSTABLE — Farmers across Franklin County could soon be getting paid big bucks for cow manure they don’t need or want.
Representatives of Darling Transportation Energy Solutions in Niskayuana met recently with members of the Franklin County Solid Waste Management Authority to talk about a plan to turn the gas from cow manure into renewable energy.
“We would like to work with the landfill to look at the potential for producing renewable natural gas,” said Chief Operating Officer Joseph Darling.
Darling is doing a similar project at a landfill in New Hampshire, but the problem they are running into is they say that landfill could run out of space sometime in the next five years. They are attracted to the size of the landfill in Franklin County and the amount of available land.
They are working with a company out of Montreal called GAS RNG Systems and they work with an affiliate called DMT and they produce most of the clean up equipment for the natural gas.
Money to pay for some of the project would come from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, but Darling and his staff won’t know for another 30 to 45 days if they have the funding.
“We have submitted a proposal to use agricultural waste and bring that in conjunction with the landfill,” said Darling.
Among the suggestions was to wash the manure and then bring it to the landfill or to just bring everything on site.
“We are familiar with different cleanup technologies for manure, drying it so that it could be brought into the landfill or if there was apprehension to doing that, there are other ways of taking the manure, cleaning it and drying it, drawing the gas off of it and using it for renewable natural gas,” said Darling.
Nothing was decided on at the meeting, but before the manure can be turned into renewable energy, Darling first wants to work on a study of the land.
“What we would like to get started on right away is the NYSERDA proposal,” Darling said. “The proposal would not be a commitment to move forward with any of the other projects, but it would enable us to do a research study for NYSERDA, just verifying all of our findings and all of our thoughts on how to make this work,” said Darling.
The feasibility study would not cost the landfill anything.
“We would like to assist the county to help draw in additional waste to make this a long-term project,” said Darling.
Another part of the plan is to try and make the project as cost effective as possible.
“What we advised NYSERDA is if you could aggregate a number of large herds to a central location, then capture that gas at a central location, that would make it the most cost effective,” said Darling.
The feasibility study of the land is expected to take about a year and members of the Solid Waste Authority say they will be bringing up a resolution and deciding on whether or not to move forward with the project.
Tapping into the methane generated by the existing landfill has been proposed in the past, but landfill officials doubted if the amount currently being generated was sufficient. A plan to import trash from Albany County would have increased the amount of gas generated to the point where former authority chairman Tim Carter had proposed using the electricity that could be generated by burning the gas to power an industrial park near the site.
The importation of trash from Albany County’s Rapp Road landfill is currently on hold, as officials there have managed to extend the usable life of the facility.