BC Bioenergy Network

Partnering for a Greener Future


Total Cost $550,500
BCBN Investment $240,000 Grant
Status Completed
Location Abbotsford, British Columbia
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Small-scale anaerobic digestion to electricity

Project Profile

While Anaerobic Digesters have been used in many countries throughout the past decade, they are mostly commissioned on large farms. To help bring this technology to smaller family farms, BCBN invested in an innovative pilot project to help The Nutriva Group develop a cost-effective, small-scale anaerobic digester at its demonstration farm in Abbotsford, the first of its kind in Canada.

The digester at EcoDairy (formerly Bakerview EcoDairy) uses technology by Vermont-based Avatar Energy and processes manure from 50 cows over 21-30 days. The resulting biogas is converted to usable electricity in a 20 kWh generator, creating 175,000 kWh of power per year – enough for the entire farm. Additional co-products are generated through separation of the effluent into low-odour field fertilizer, with the remaining solids used as bedding material for cow stalls.

With over 6,000 hours on the system and a number of modifications through the initial development phase, EcoDairy and Avatar Canada moved to commercial scale in 2013, offering significant benefits to farms in the 100-400 cow range.  Throughout 2013, both parties co-operated on several improvements to the anaerobic digester and generator system.  The facility runs much more efficiently overall.

As of June 5, 2014, EcoDairy is now in partnership with Science World British Columbia. Science World has set up a permanent display in the EcoDairy Learning Centre, which introduces visitors to many aspects of cow physiology, milk production and sustainable farming practices.  This partnership has subsequently led to the formation of the Dairy Innovation Association, a not-for-profit, BC-based association with four mandates:

  • To create a platform for advances in agri-technology and to promote agri-tourism.
  • To provide opportunities for education of dairy farming practices and products.
  • To focus on green energy conservation and nutrient management.
  • To offer a fun and experiential learning environment for the public.


  • Greenhouse gas reductions: Converting methane to electricity on a 50-cow farm reduces CO2e emissions by 150 tonnes per year; equivalent to taking 35 cars off the road.
  • Economic benefits: At pilot scale, the facility is saving 33% on electricity and reducing bedding costs.
  • More effective fertilizer: After being inside the digester for 25-40 days, the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in manure are more readily absorbed by crops.
  • Increased water and food safety: During the digestion process, 99% of harmful bacteria are destroyed, preventing risk of food and water contamination.
  • Food waste diversion: EcoDairy processes 312,000 litres of milk by-product waste that would otherwise be landfilled.
  • Odour reduction: Through the destruction of volatile organic compounds, on-farm digesters reduce offensive odours by up to 97 percent.



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