Chicken Poop to Power

From Renewable Energy Access, news of plans in Georgia to build the state’s first poultry litter-to-energy operation (I’m guessing they were too polite to say “poop” in their press release):

Green Power EMC, a partnership of 28 electric membership corporations (EMCs) in Georgia, will purchase 20 megawatts (MW) of electricity from what may well be the first poultry litter-to-energy operation in Georgia. The electricity will be provided by Earth Resources Inc., which will construct a chicken litter-to-electricity plant about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta.

When complete, the $20 million Franklin County plant will generate enough energy annually to meet the needs of more than 15,000 homes. Construction is scheduled to begin in May and expected to be operational by summer 2007.

The 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) is part of Green Power EMC’s mission to research and develop renewable energy options such as biomass, solar, wind and low-impact hydro. “Green Power EMC continues to assist its members in diversifying their energy resources and their renewable energy portfolio,” said Michael Whiteside, president and CEO of Green Power EMC. “This technology will benefit businesses, farmers, EMC customers, residents of Georgia and the environment.”

While regular readers know I’m huge fan of the concept of turning wastes into energy, I do have a question on this one (and, now that I think about it, on other such operations): isn’t factory-style farming necessary to outfit such a power plant? Seems to me that free-range birds means free-range poop, which is hardly conducive to gathering in large amounts. If I’m correct, we’re presented with yet another head-scratcher: is it more sustainable to raise animals in a more humane manner, or to use the wastes of factory-style operations to produce cleaner energy? Would a free-range operation ultimately require less energy, making such power plants less necessary? I haven’t even touched on the quality of the food, which is certainly another connected issue. Perhaps I’m late to the game here… educate me…

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  1. kat pettus

    At some point we have to look at the cost of creating a poop-to-electricity plant vs the cost of current electricity. If you are going to spend 20 million on clean energy shouldn’t it be renewable. How long do the think chickens live? Are they planning to sell the eggs or the chickens when they get old? How do they plan to get new chickens? I can think of many better ways to creat energy with 20 million to spend.

  2. JAY

    this is a comment for kat the eggs that are produced from the chickens can be hatched and become new chickens. so when you are eating your eggs for breakfast you are eating undeveloped chicken embryo.

  3. Cindy N.

    I didn’t see anything in the article that said they were cage free or free range birds. What if they are conventionally raised broilers? They would be housed in a climate controlled chicken house and floor raised.

  4. Christie H.

    Get real, most people can’t afford free range chicken, so factory raised chicken is not going away and this is a great way to deal with the byproduct of manure produced by the birds

  5. Matt S

    Actually Jay, If there are no mature roosters around, there is no embryo; only an egg. Also, until you can convince everyone to raise their own free-range chickens and have the will to slaughter them, commercial chicken farming is here to stay.

  6. jacqueline

    I think using the waste from ALL farm animals which either are Factory Farms or private using hog cattle or horse waste which is collected in a specific area like a pool type area which can be pumped and scooped by the energy company like a trash service at no cost to those who save it for the utility converter to have FREE source of energy by the public (other than their cost to pick it up which they should because after all it is given to them as FREE ENERGY like oil or coal DUH!) They can use it for methane gas as well as burn it for energy and use the byproduct as fertilizer and land fill which is stearl and germ free from the heat. so YEAH do it and in the process save the ground waters from contamination by containing the waste from hormones and other things which are not so good to our health. I even beleive on a larger scale human waste could be applied to the same for energy source

  7. dave

    Sounds like a great idea.
    If the company owned the farm with the chickens, then they can just do a side business of slaughtering adult chickens when they reach maturity, or just harvesting the unfertilized eggs that everyone eats.

    IF Purdue did this, in Eastern Maryland…and just added the reactor to their farm sites, they’d save millions, and give power to the community, which currently runs on Gas, and coal plants.

  8. Chiten

    Keep in mind that if you use ALL farm animal waste, then you take away the natural fertilizer that it provides. You can’t donate all the … by-product..of anything to one venue. Sure, you could use waste from all types of farm animals, but all farm animal waste shouldn’t go to the production of electricty alone. It is used quite a bit in farming areas as fertilizer, hence the “smell of the great outdoors” you get when driving through rural PA.
    I hate to think that at some point in our future, the most valuable commodity will be POOP. But, alas, since our government is run on 100% pure bullsh!&, why not run our electrical plants on it as well.

    can we find some way to harvest it from DC from congress and the WhiteHouse? There’s a never-ending supply and it comes “fresh” every day.

  9. WhiteRiverCloud

    It will take a lot of birds to create enough poop to generate a cash flow.
    I raise birds. Currently have around 30 birds. Just for eggs and fertlizer.
    My action has been to convert the poop from amonia to nitrite with ABATE XP from Agri-Tec.
    I don’t know I would like to be near a plant that is burning chicken poop.
    Can’t be healthy.

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