JENBACH, Austria -- With the international community seeking to expand the development of different types of renewable energy, more farmers in North America and Europe are using GE Energy's ecomagination-certified Jenbacher engines to generate onsite power from biogas created from converted animal waste and other agricultural organic materials.

In the European Union (EU), where agriculture is responsible for 9% of greenhouse gas emissions, countries are being encouraged to expand the use of cogeneration technologies to reduce various industrial source points of methane gas emissions -- including agricultural operations. The waste of 2,500 cows, 15,000 pigs or 300,000 chickens can create enough biogas to power one of GE's Jenbacher cogeneration units with electrical output of 500 kW, which is enough energy to supply more than 900 EU homes.

Although the practice is more widely accepted in Europe, a growing number of farmers in both the United States and Canada are also installing similar systems to generate onsite power from methane-rich biogas that is created from the breakdown of organic materials, including animal manure and energy crops.

By producing biogas from animal manure as substitute for fossil fuels, any additional greenhouse gas emissions are avoided. Additionally, farmers also benefit from the biogas generation's end-product: a high-quality, agricultural fertilizer that neutralizes acid levels with a higher Ph-value and is nearly odorless. Using this kind of fertilizer instead of the original manure has a positive effect on the local water bodies.

"In the face of dwindling reserves of fossil fuels, this solution provides an attractive, renewable alternative. The use of agricultural waste to produce biogas gives farms another way to reduce their operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions," said Prady Iyyanki, CEO of GE Energy's Jenbacher gas engine business.

April 2009 marks the third anniversary of the installation of one of GE's Jenbacher biogas systems at Norswiss Farms in Rice Lake in Wisconsin, a major dairy-producing state.

The 1,100-cow dairy farm is operating an 848-kW, combined heat and power (CHP) system that uses digester biogas created from a mixture of cow manure and other waste. The electricity generated is delivered into the grid and can power about 600 U.S. homes, while the heat is delivered through heat exchangers and used to support the manure digestion process. The separated, digested solids are used as animal bedding -- a replacement for sawdust, woodchips or sand.

GE Energy's Jenbacher gas engine business is a leading manufacturer of gas-fueled reciprocating engines, packaged generator sets and cogeneration units for power generation. GE's gas engine technology covers an output range of 0.25 to four MW and can operate on a broad variety of gases while offering high levels of efficiency, durability and reliability.

GE Energy's Jenbacher technology is well established in many European countries, with more than 1,100 engines running on biogas, including in Germany (Europe's leading country in this application), Austria and, most recently, for a biomass-to-energy project in Limena, northeastern Italy. In 2008, GE's Jenbacher equipment was installed to process agricultural waste at the Baita del Latte farm plant in Limena, Italy to produce 1.06-MW of electricity. The project is designed to prevent the annual release of 5,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

France also is well positioned to develop additional alternative power generation from biogas out of agricultural waste and various energy crops. In 2009, the French government implemented a new initiative, "Objectif Terres 2020," to encourage the production of renewable energy derived from agricultural sources.

Every year, France -- which has the largest farming sector in the EU -- generates 300 million tons of livestock manure. This alone represents the energy equivalent of between three and four million tons of oil a year - enough to support the annual energy requirements of nine to 12 million homes in France.

Numerous GE Energy products are certified under ecomagination, GE's corporate-wide initiative to aggressively bring to market new technologies that will help customers meet pressing environmental challenges. In addition to its various cogeneration applications, GE's Jenbacher biogas, landfill gas and coal mine methane engines previously received ecomagination certification, underscoring the environmental and economic benefits offered from the utilization of generating energy from high methane content waste streams.

GE Energy is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies, with 2008 revenue of $29.3 billion. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, GE Energy works in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.

GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that is built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.

SOURCE: GE Energy via Business Wire.