- Andrea GantzDarling Downs Fresh Eggs of Australia is the country's first egg company to be fully powered with energy from poultry manure.
Australian egg producer Darling Downs Fresh Eggs has become the first egg company in the country to create power from 100 percent poultry manure.
Geoff Sondergeld, CEO of Darling Downs, said rising energy costs and the need to do something with the manure from 250,000 influenced the company’s decision to find a way to turn manure into energy.
"Our electricity costs were rising on an annualized basis somewhere around 30 percent," he said. "We have our own rearing sheds and feed mill and highly technical laying operations. And we spend a lot of electricity cooling the birds, especially in summertime."
In the process, the farm has "almost" become carbon neutral, Sondergeld said.
The conversion process
Liquid and solid waste is put into a "digestion" process which produces methane gas. Once methane is produced, a biogas generator converts the gas to electricity which powers the farm. Chicken manure does not contain the natural bacteria needed to make methane, so it is added.
The facility on the farm has had to be registered as a separate power plant.
"There are a lot of approvals to obtain but it will be worth it in the fullness of time," Sondergeld said.
Economic and other benefits
While the process of converting the poultry manure into a source of energy has been costly at first, Sondergeld expects the initiative to pay for itself over the course of five years.
"We are essentially turning a cost part of the business into a revenue generating part of the business," he said.
But Sondergeld said it is not all about economics. He said the energy project has also helped Darling Downs become a more environmentally sustainable business.