New Holland, a leading agricultural machinery manufacturer, has been making headlines recently with the launch of its methane-powered tractor. The tractor can be powered by the methane produced by a 100-cow herd for an entire year. However, this is just the beginning for New Holland as the company is looking to fully exploit the potential of slurry methane as an alternative energy source. In March of this year, New Holland acquired a controlling interest in Bennamann, a UK-based company that specializes in methane capture and utilization.
While many may think of using the methane as an alternative fuel for tractors, New Holland is considering other ways to use it on farms. Bennamann has already established a dairy farm in Cornwall that is almost fully self-sufficient in its energy needs, with the missing piece of the puzzle being a methane-powered generator. New Holland is planning to replicate this model in Ireland, with plans for a second farm in 2024. Although the details of the project have not been released, the company’s recently appointed methane specialist, Seamus Gallagher, is eager to promote the idea.
The benefits of using methane go beyond just energy self-sufficiency. Methane capture and utilization can also reduce emissions, which is becoming increasingly important as carbon credits become more accessible to small-scale industries. Seamus Gallagher believes that there is enough potential energy yield in the national dairy herd to eliminate the need for the Irish government to purchase carbon credits from other countries to cover its use of fossil fuels. In the future, farming and industry may even use carbon credits as an alternative currency. Although this idea may seem far-fetched at present, New Holland is taking it seriously and is at the forefront of creating an alternative energy landscape.
Promoting methane as an additional income stream for farmers has its attractions. By utilizing methane, farmers can reduce their energy costs and potentially earn additional income by selling excess energy back to the grid. Methane capture and utilization can also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is becoming increasingly important for businesses to remain competitive. While there may be some challenges to overcome, such as the added complexity of using carbon credits as a currency, the potential benefits are too great to ignore. New Holland’s investment in Bennamann and its commitment to promoting methane capture and utilization is a step in the right direction towards a more sustainable future for agriculture and industry.