Turning on-farm renewable natural gas into a reality

Stanton Bros. set to become first agricultural supplier into Ontario grid

The manure from cows at the Stanton dairy farm near Ilderton is digested in biogas units and the methane produced will shortly be fed into the province’s natural gas grid.

An Ilderton-area dairy farm is set to become the first agricultural contributor to Ontario’s natural gas grid, with only minor steps remaining to connect to the pipeline passing along the front property line.

“We’re very close. Our end of the project is complete. We’ve got gas flowing to the road,” said Murray Logan of Rural Green Energy, a Guelph-based company working alongside Shakespeare-based Stonecrest Engineering and the farm’s owners on this first-in-the-province enterprise.

Why it matters: Power generated by on-farm biodigesters has typically been used for generators, but this project is the first time an on-farm biodigester will supply the grid. 

Stanton Bros. Ltd. began its foray into biogas-fuelled renewable energy production with an on-farm digester powering three 250-kilowatt electricity generators. The facility takes in both on-farm and off-farm organic wastes.

This summer a second biodigester was completed. Instead of powering generators, however, the methane from this unit is purified and pressurized and sent out the laneway to connect to the natural gas grid.

Stonecrest engineer Nicholas Hendry explained the details of the project during the in-person Outdoor Dairy Days, presented by Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show Sept. 21-22.

The infrastructure needed to scrub methane gas produced by the digester is installed at the Stanton dairy farm near Ilderton. photo: Murray Logan

There are currently methane biodigesters feeding Ontario’s natural gas grid operated by municipal or industrial interests in the Niagara Region, GTA and Leamington. In British Columbia and Quebec, there are already on-farm biodigesters supplying what’s identified as renewable natural gas (RNG). But Stanton Bros. is the first operator of an on-farm digester in Ontario to install the necessary infrastructure to supply RNG.

Pipeline operator Enbridge is constructing a compound at the road, Logan said, to test the gas from the biodigester and further purify if necessary to meet the provincial grid specifications. But the contract signed by Stanton Bros. for supplying the grid isn’t with Enbridge. Instead, it’s with British Columbia-based utility Fortis. Logan told Farmtario the natural gas regulator in B.C. approved the Fortis/Stanton Bros. contract in the spring of 2020.

“We’re excited about it,” Logan said. “With all the regulations and getting the necessary contracts and approvals, it has taken a long time getting to this point.”

The infrastructure needed to scrub methane gas produced by the digester is installed at the Stanton dairy farm near Ilderton.

About the author


Stew Slater

Stew Slater operates a small dairy farm on 150 acres near St. Marys, Ont., and has been writing about rural and agricultural issues since 1999.



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