PROGRESS: Fuel cell efficiency cuts dairy energy costs, pollution


ALBANY, N.Y. – N.Y. Agriculture Commissioner Nathan L. Rudgers has recognized the successful installation and benefits of fuel cell technology on dairy farms in New York State.

An on-site liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fueled fuel cell was provided by Plug Power Inc. for Wagner Farms, a 300-cow dairy farm in Eagle Mills, Rensselaer County.

Clean power. Fuel cells offer energy generation by using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity with little or no pollution or noise.

LPG fuel cells use a reforming unit to extract hydrogen from propane fuel before transporting it into the electricity-producing fuel cell stack. The only by-products of the fuel cell are heat, clean water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.

“Fuel cells have transformed the way energy is generated, providing a cleaner power source that will help New York and the nation gain greater energy independence and security,” Rudgers said.

The fuel cell on Wagner Farms has been operational since February 2004 and has been used to heat the milking parlor during the winter months.

The fuel cell has operated for more than 2,000 hours, generating approximately 4,800kWh and 16.5 million BTUs.

Learning continues. “Plug Power has sited more than 400 fuel cell systems serving a variety of applications over the past five years,” said Roger Saillant, president of Plug Power. “This installation at Wagner’s Farm is important to us since it represents a brand new application for our fuel cell system and it allows us to gain additional insight operating a system in this type of environment.”

Great efficiency. Capable of operating on multiple fuels, such as natural gas, propane and hydrogen, fuel cell systems offer higher efficiency than conventional power generation, little or no pollution, greater flexibility in installation and operation, and are practical alternatives to existing power sources.

In addition to Wagner Farms, Plug Power has also installed a fuel cell at Stanton’s Dairy Farm in Coeymans Hollow, Albany County.

New York’s 7,000 dairy farmers pay nearly $40 million annually for utility costs or approximately 33 cents for every hundred pounds of milk sold. While that expense is less than 3 percent of total operating costs, it is an expense that technology, such as fuel cells and energy efficiencies, has helped to reduce.

With more than 7,000 dairy farms, New York produces 12.2 billion pounds of milk annually, generating $1.56 billion last year.

For more information on fuel cells and Plug Power Inc., visit


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