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Abbotsford home to Canada’s first on-farm cow-powered dairy

New agricultural technology is converting cow manure into clean, renewable energy on an Abbotsford farm.
B.C.’s first small scale

New agricultural technology is converting cow manure into clean, renewable energy on an Abbotsford farm.

Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman was in Abbotsford Wednesday to help commission B.C.’s first small-scale on-farm anaerobic digester at Abbotsford’s Bakerview EcoDairy. The technology is now connected to B.C.’s electricity grid.

“This project is a first in Canada and is a good demonstration of the creativity and innovation of our province,” said Coleman. “I congratulate Bakerview EcoDairy for their entrepreneurial spirit and leadership in sustainability. This is a good step forward for the energy and agricultural industries in B.C.”

The anaerobic digester will generate up to 60,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually – enough to power 20 electric vehicles for a year. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, odour from manure and the amount of manure that can run-off into local water supplies.

"I am proud to see clean, on-site generation for our demonstration dairy,” said Bill Vanderkooi, president of Bakerview EcoDairy and CEO of Nutriva Group. “We pride ourselves on being a responsible and sustainable organization and I appreciate the opportunity we have to educate the public on environmentally and animal-friendly innovations in a fully-operational farm.”

The digester not only generates clean electricity, but also creates heat, fertilizer and cow bedding for the farm. The system heats cow manure and captures the byproduct – biogas. The biogas is used by a generator to create electricity.

“We are pleased to support this project. It’s a great example of cost-effective, sustainable energy generation that adds to the growing bioenergy sector in B.C.,” said Michael Weedon, executive director of the BC Bioenergy Network.

“This is a ground-breaking project for our province and will demonstrate to other dairy farmers the environmental and economic benefits of on-site energy generation on a proportional scale,” said Garnet Etsell, Chair, BC Agriculture Council, on behalf of the Environmental Farm Plan Program.

The project was funded in part through a $240,000 grant from the BC Bioenergy Network, a $70,000 grant from the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program and an $80,000 grant from BC Hydro’s Power Smart Technology Demonstration Fund. The Power Smart fund is available for projects that demonstrate innovative and emerging technologies that can be used to conserve electricity.

Other sustainable initiatives at the Bakerview EcoDairy include a natural ventilation system that uses the forces of wind and buoyancy to deliver fresh air into the building; an energy efficient lighting system; automated atmospheric controls that detect changes in the internal climate and automatically adjust windows, curtains and fans; and a water conservation system that collects fresh rainwater from the roof of one of the buildings to irrigate the grounds and the green roof on the barn.