Agricultural operations are increasingly becoming energy generators as well as energy consumers. Follow these links to learn about the latest energy generation technologies.
There are 5 sections of resources:
- Organizations with a focus on renewable energy
- MREC Conference presentations on renewable energy
- Renewable Energy, general interest
- More on Wind Energy
- Publications on Wind Energy
- Organizations with a focus on wind energy
- Anaerobic Digesters
- MREC Conference Presentations on Anaerobic Digesters and Bio-gas
- Anaerobic Digester Basics
- Farmer’s Experience with Digesters
- Organizations with a focus on digesters
- MREC Conference Presentations on Bioenergy issues
- Organizations with a focus on bioenergy
Renewable Energy including wind and solar
Organizations with a focus on renewable energy:
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (a national laboratory of the US Dept. of Energy)
- US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Iowa Energy Center, (including section on Biomass Energy Conversion Facility (BECON))
- Focus on Energy (promotes energy efficiency technology in Wisconsin)
- Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
- Let’s Go Solar
- Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) (USDA Rural Development help with financing renewable energy)
MREC Conference presentations on renewable energy
- What do Wind Turbines do for Single Phase Distribution? Jim Thiede, Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, LLC (2015)
- The First Community Wind Project in WI: an Innovative Public/Private Partnership–Wes Slaymaker, WES Engineering (2014)
- Wind Turbines & Stray Voltage, Jenny Heinzen, Midwest Renewable Energy Association (2012)
- Wind Energy Overview— Doug Reinemann, University of Wisconsin- Madison (2012)
- Livestock Used to Manage Land Under Solar Panels, Jonathan Barter, American Solar Grazing Association (see handouts below) (2020)
- Developing Community and Utility-Scale Solar Projects, Joe McDonald, Vernon Electric Cooperative (2018)
- Customer Owned Solar in Wisconsin Mike Moore, Wisconsin Public Service (2015)
- Renewable Energy (General interest)
- Renewable Energy Options for Farms, Jenny Heinzen, Midwest Renewable Energy Association (2012)
More on Wind Energy
Publications on Wind Energy
- How do Wind Turbines Generate Electricity? (MREC Publication 2014)
- Wind Turbines and Farm Stray Voltage (MREC Publication 2014)
Organizations with a focus on wind energy
- American Wind Energy Association– AWEA is an “advocate for the development of wind energy as a reliable, environmentally superior energy alternative in the United States and around the world.” This site contains current wind energy news, information on various wind systems and other wind energy resources.
- National Renewable Energy Lab– The National Wind Technology Center is a world-class research facility in which sectors of the wind energy industry and researchers work to lower the cost of wind energy systems, while advancing the system technology. The site includes information about the general program, current projects, a database of publications on wind energy and links to other wind resources.
- US Department of Energy WINDExchange dedicated to increasing the use of wind energy technologies all over the Unites States. The site has information for various sectors of the population and their role in implementing wind energy, as well as wind energy news, events, and other resources.
Anaerobic digesters convert the energy stored in organic materials present in manure into biogas. Biogas can be fed directly into a gas-fired combustion turbine. The type of turbine most often used for small-scale electricity production is the microturbine. Combustion of biogas converts the energy stored in the bonds of the molecules of the methane contained in the biogas into mechanical energy as it spins a turbine. The mechanical energy produced by biogas combustion in an engine or microturbine spins a turbine that produces a stream of electrons, or, electricity. In addition, waste heat from these engines can provide heating or hot water for use on farm.
As a fuel, biogas composed of 65% methane yields about 650 BTU per cubic foot. Often used when designing systems for the anaerobic digestion of manure, these energy estimates can predict the amount of power production per animal. General estimates predict one kilowatt of electricity production requires five to eight dairy cows.
MREC Conference Presentations on Anaerobic Digesters and Bio-Gas
- Brown County Digester Project, Dan Nemke, Dynamic (2018)
- Where are We Today with Digesters? Steve Dvorak, DVO Anaerobic Digesters (2016)
- A High School Science Curriculum on Digesters, Mike Moore, WI Public Service (2015)
Anaerobic Digester Basics
- United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Anaerobic Digestion Basics, University of Idaho Extension, 2014
- Definition of Anaerobic Digestion, California Energy Commission
- Farm Energy from Manure, a publication from Focus on Energy
Farmer’s Experience with Digesters
Older archived information concerning farmer’s experiences with digesters;
- Habenschilds Farm Anaerobic Digestor — Final Report, in Princeton, MN (2002)
- Tinedale Farm in Wrightstown, WI. [Note: This is a study funded through the Energy Center of Wisconsin.
Organizations with a focus on digesters
- AGSTAR: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s program to encourage the use of biogas.
- Introduction to the Wisconsin Biogas Development Group. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) hosted a group called the Wisconsin Biogas Development Group. For information on the group or to contact a biogas specialist at DATCP, contact Roger Kasper.
Bioenergy refers to the energy of materials such as wood, corn, and animal waste. The carbon stored within these energy sources is originally derived, via photosynthesis, from the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere. Therefore, bioenergy is often valued for its carbon dioxide sequestering ability.
Materials such as wood, corn, and animal waste can be burned directly, or made into fuels or other value added products. For instance, the same corn crop can be made into ethanol and also yield distiller’s grain for animal feed. The general term for using biomass materials as the feedstock for fuels, chemicals, or other valuable bioproducts is biorefining.
MREC Conference Presentations on Bioenergy Issues
- Manure Management: Processing, Storage, and Land Application, Rebecca Larson, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2020)
- Co-generation at Ethanol Plants, Vance Morey, Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Dept., University of Minnesota (2012)
Organizations with a focus on bioenergy
- University of Minnesota Center for Biorefining
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory Bioenergy Technologies
- Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center
- NDSU Bio Energy and Production Innovation Center: (North Dakota)
- Iowa State University Bioeconomy Institute
- Great Plains Institute