The very cool Shelburne Farms is a 1,400-acre working farm located on the shores of Lake Champlain, just south of Burlington, Vermont. One of their claims to fame is as a nonprofit environmental education center offering learning for young and old on a variety of topics, many of which are sustainable in nature.
The Farm took another step towards its goal of being 100% powered by renewable sources today as they began test burning a new fuel in the furnace of their massive main barn. Grass pellets.
Shelburne spends about $1000 per year to mow grass that doesn’t get used as hay and until recently has gone to waste. They now hope to be able to gather grass from their property, as well as their neighbours, and use a special machine to turn it into pellets which will then be burned in much the same way as wood pellets are used.
If successful, the grass pellet could offer significant benefits over its wooden cousin, chief among them cost. Here’s a blurb from an AP article at Yahoo to explain…
A ton of grass pellets produces 14 million British thermal units of heat, versus 16 million for a ton of wood pellets, the paper said. But it added that wood pellets cost about $200 a ton, where grass pellets will be able to be sold for $100 a ton.
Put another way, the cost per million Btu for fuel oil is $23.47; for electricity, $39.73; for wood pellets $17.86 and for grass pellets provided by a producers’ co-op to farmers who grow the grass, at $10.20.