Cow Power

One of the reasons we love being meadmakers is that we have almost no waste. Breweries have tons (literally) of grain to dispose of, not to mention crazy amounts of hops in this IPA-loving state. We have the luxury of mixing honey, water, and yeast, putting it all in a tank, and waiting.[1] In the end, our only waste product is a few gallons of inactive yeast slurry.

Now, breweries aren’t the only businesses in Vermont that have to deal with a lot of waste. We’re talking about the only thing Vermonters might love as much as they love beer: Dairy. 

We can’t have all that fantastic cheese, yogurt, and milk without cows, and cows produce waste. Lots of it.

These days, thanks to some recent innovations in microbiology, we have a way to turn that waste into something useful. By using microbes[2] to break down the cow manure, the methane can be harvested and used to run a motor that adds its energy to the power grid. The remaining waste is then separated into liquids and solids. The unpleasant smell is gone, the liquids are used for fertilizer, and the solids are used for animal bedding. How cool is that? It’s like the friggin‘ circle of life!

Manure Scraper at Green Mountain Dairy
At Green Mountain Dairy, manure is automatically removed from the dairy barns, leaving a surprisingly clean floor behind.
Cow Power motor at Green Mountain Dairy
Methane harvested from cow manure is used to run this motor which contributes power to the grid.

Animal bedding made from recycled cow waste at Green Mountain Dairy
The pleasant-smelling solid byproduct is used for animal bedding at Green Mountain Dairy.
Bill of Green Mountain Dairy chatting with Groennfell's Kelly and two representatives from Green Mountain Power.
Bill Rowell of Green Mountain Dairy chatting with Groennfell’s CEO Kelly and two representatives from Green Mountain Power.
Consumers like Groennfell Meadery and individual households can opt into the Cow Power program. We pay a little bit more on our power bill, but by running our meadery 100% on Cow Power, we are helping to turn waste into energy and, since we use a renewable power source, we have eliminated one more type of waste from our operations.

Click here to learn more about the Cow Power Program.

[1] That’s a bit of an oversimplification. It’s more like this.
[2] Specifically, archaea, which are prokaryotes like bacteria but are actually a separate domain.

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