Chickens Can Help Save the Planet Too

A massive chicken farm in California gets a power boost from chicken poop–and helps reduce global warming gases in the process.

chicken farm


As regular readers know, we love poop-powered gizmos. And with everything from wastewater thermal energy devices to portable poop-powered nuclear reactors popping up on our radar, there’s no shortage of sludgy stories to cover.

Our new favorite: FuelCell Energy’s chicken poop-powered fuel cell plant.

The fuel cell power plant, set to be installed at Olivera Egg Ranch in French Camp, California, will convert the chickens’ waste streams into methane gas for a mini-power plant. All methane waste from the chickens will be converted into renewable energy–a big change from the current system, where poop is stored in a giant waste lagoon and methane (a greenhouse gas) is free to escape into the air. Considering the scale of Olivera’s operations–14 million cartons of eggs produced each year–that’s an awful lot of methane.

Olivera’s 1.4 megawatt fuel cell plant will reportedly provide enough power for the entire facility, making the egg ranch a closed-loop system. “My waste disposal costs will decrease, as will my power bill,” says Ed Olivera, Owner of Olivera Egg Ranch, in a statement. “The
poultry operation will continually generate the fuel needed to create
electricity, reducing the amount of electricity needed from the
electrical grid.”

It’s hard to see a downside to the system–electricity is produced on-site, waste that would otherwise help heat up the planet gets reused, and Olivera saves cash over time. Animal farms, are you paying attention?

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more