Madison-based renewable energy projects
MGE and Virent are building the first system capable of converting sugar into power.
MGE has partnered on two small-scale, yet groundbreaking research projects that demonstrate new technology and renewable energy sources. MGE takes responsibility to protect the environment as we provide energy to our vibrant local economy.
Virent Energy Systems of Madison recently patented the world's first demonstration project that converts corn, soybeans and other plant by-products into hydrogen and other fuels to power electric generators.
The energy feeds into MGE's electric grid. The system can produce enough energy to serve about five typical homes. It is a small but significant step in the development of renewable energy sources.
Virent's pioneering process is a promising advance for the future of hydrogen-based energy systems.
MGE is testing a Stirling engine as a way to economically produce electricity from methane gas at small- to medium-sized landfills. The first project of this kind in North America is a partnership between MGE and local municipalities operating the Metropolitan Refuse District Landfill in Middleton. Landfills are required to control the release of methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas that is produced as refuse decomposes. At smaller landfills, the gas is usually just burned off because the cost to use the relatively small amount of low-BTU and impure methane in conventional engine generators is prohibitive. A Stirling engine, which has an external combustion chamber, can more cost-effectively use this poor-quality, dirty gas to produce electricity. MGE has supported electricity production from landfill gas for years. In 2005, we served 3,200 homes with electricity generated at a large county landfill.
Commitment to research
MGE's renewable research projects range from solar power, to carbon sequestration to burning switchgrass for electric generation.
For example, MGE has funded 18 photovoltaic installations that convert sunlight into electricity. We support these projects to study the performance of different solar technologies in our climate.
See mge.com/environment for more information about renewable energy.