Anaerobic Digester CHP – Fairview Swiss Cheese Plant

Project at a glance

Project Cost:  $2.2 million
Estimated Annual Value:  $250,000
% Grant Funding:  40%
Project Size:  300 kWe  1.5 mmBtu/h process heat
Status:  Operational 
Additional Benefits: 

  • >500 Mg CO2/y emissions reductions
  • Eliminates land application of waste
  • Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

Project Overview

This project is the result of a feasibility study, conducted for Mercer County, investigating the potential of a community digester to process manure and food waste into renewable energy. The study was funded by a PADEP solid waste planning grant. The project involves construction of a fixed film digester that will generate biogas from Fairview’s waste whey to operate an internal combustion engine generator. An estimated 2.3 million kWh per year of electricity is being produced by the generator, which is in its first year of operation and net metered through an interconnection with the local utility.
The project capitalizes on the waste heat by implementing a combined heat and power (CHP) operation. Approximately 60,000 gallons of insulated thermal storage captures waste heat from the process of electricity generation and is used to process milk into cheese through a series of heat exchangers. The use of the waste heat eliminates 50,000 gallons of fuel oil purchases annually. In addition to energy savings, this project eliminates field application of whey, reducing plant operating costs and improving local water quality. The project’s capital cost is $2.2 million with $873,000 of the cost secured from State and Federal renewable energy grants.

Services Provided

A feasibility study for a community digester in Mercer County Pennsylvania was commissioned by PADEP. The study inventoried available food and agricultural waste to produce biogas. As a result of the study an opportunity was identified for a CHP renewable energy project at the John Koller and Son, Inc. Fairview cheese plant. The study and subsequent consulting services required the following: inventory of feedstocks; identifying appropriate technology; optimizing the use of renewable energy; generator sizing, grid interconnection, thermal storage and distribution of process heat and electricity; identifying markets for renewable energy credits (RECs); developing grant applications and securing funding for both the study and implementing the recommendations; and working with PADEP to secure air quality and environmental permits.

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