New Energy Farms (NEF) is working to develop the first perennial biogas crops. Inside a project with the University of Guelph and with Seacliff Energy the potential of new perennial crops for biogas (Anaerobic digestion) to generate renewable electricity is being assessed.

The University of Guelph at the Ridgetown campus combine research work on perennial feedstock crops with operating a 250 KW Anaerobic Digester as part of the Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy Sustainability (CARES).

Seacliff Energy operates a 1.6 MW Anaerobic Digester which turns thousands of tons of organic waste into of green electricity, heat to offset the cost and environmental impact of the adjacent greenhouses, as well as organic solid and liquid fertilizer by-products.

The project is evaluating the biogas yield of perennial biogas crops being developed by NEF. Biogas yield and quality is being tested by the University of Guelph with commercial assessments by Seacliff Energy. These include Arundo donax, Napier Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum). These crops are bring brought to market using the NEF CEEDSTM system for establishing perennial crops.

Dedicated energy crops are a key component of established biogas markets, where they provide secure feedstock supply. The most established market for this is Germany where over 900,000 Ha (2.2 million acres) of energy crop maize was grown for biogas in 2012.

Perennial biogas crops can play a key role in this market in a number of ways. They provide higher yields per acre of feedstock, can be grown on non food quality land, and diversity the feedstock supply base. The initial work on these crops shows that biogas yields of >325 m-3 of biogas per dry matter tonne are possible. Combined with the high yields from the perennial crops biogas yields of over 9,000 m-3 Ha are achievable, higher than Maize. In addition being perennial feedstock can be supplied at different times of the year, to improve logistics of supply and digestate application. The work by NEF is also investigating biodiversity benefits of using multiple crops in the same field.

NEF will be establishing test areas of these crops for a number of biogas projects in North America in Spring 2014. Further interested customers are required who would like to evaluate these crops for their projects. If you would like to arrange this please contact us at the details below or speak to us about attending our Open day on the 19th September 2013 in Ontario to see these crops.