Delta farm turns manure into money by making it renewable natural gas

WATCH: A Delta family has earned its living on their dairy farm. But as Nadia Stewart explains, a growing part of their business doesn’t come from milk production, and instead comes from renewable energy.

A lower mainland dairy farm is growing thanks to something their cows produce.

For the last thirty years, SeaBreeze Farms in Delta has been supplying milk locally. Now, the farm has also found a way to make its manure profitable too.

“We’re always looking at ways to do things better and to take manure and make it a revenue generator, that was important to us,” said Jerry Keulen, the farm’s owner.

Since 2012, the farm has been working with CH Four Biogas, a Coquitlam company that specializes in anaerobic digestion: the process by which waste materials decompose in an oxygen deprived environment. Rather than just releasing the methane from the cow’s waste, SeaBreeze Farms has been combining the manure with organic waste from Metro Vancouver. Once it breaks down, it produces biogas, which is made up of 40% CO2 and 60% methane.

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“That biogas is then purified…to pipeline quality natural gas and it’s sold to Fortis BC as renewable natural gas,” explains Ethan Werner, operations manager for CHFour Biogas.

To date, more than seven thousand customers across the province use renewable natural gas, whether it be a blend, or 100 per cent.

But it isn’t cheap.

“It’s a little more expensive,” said Jason Wolfe, director of energy solutions for Fortis BC.

“Right now, natural gas on the market that’s produced in Northern BC is about $3.00 per gigajoule and this is above $10.00 per gigajoule and that’s why we offer the blend. So, if you take 10 per cent blend, you’re looking at about an increase of in your bill, for a homeowner, of about three dollars a month.”

Wolfe says the higher price hasn’t been a deterrant and they’re anticipating more demand for renewable natural gas in the years to come.

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