Farms could provide renewable natural gas fuel in New York

November 19, 2018. New York’s 625,000 dairy cows produce an almost limitless supply of “brown gold” – manure that can be used to make clean-burning renewable natural gas, to fuel vehicles throughout the state.

   On a large scale, officials said such efforts would have a host of environmental benefits including a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. But widespread adoption won’t occur without a financially viable business model.

   More than 100 stakeholders, including farm, energy and development firm representatives, along with state officials, gathered Monday at Skidmore College for a workshop called, “The Power of Organic Waste: Opportunities for Renewable Natural Gas in New York.”

   “You get a tremendous bang for your buck when you convert a fleet of trucks or buses to renewable natural gas,” said Joanna D. Underwood, founder of New York City-based Energy Vision, which organized the event. “Then you create the market for the guy who wants to buy an anaerobic digester.”

   Anaerobic digesters convert manure to methane gas. Currently, the systems are found at 28 upstate New York farms, including Wagner Farms in Brunswick, Rensselaer County. Most farms use the electricity to power their operations, which reduces utility costs.