Fueling Tomorrow’s Energy Independence
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- Alternative fuel technology: the starting point of a virtuous cycle for the future of agriculture
Fueling Tomorrow’s Energy Independence
The SCEA Longchamps in Andelnans, France, was chosen to test New Holland Agriculture’s
new concept tractor powered by methane. It’s the key element for the Energy Independent
Farm™, at the core of New Holland Agriculture’s Clean Leader Energy Strategy: producing
biomethane to power the farm, the agricultural equipment— and the surrounding community.
Written By New Holland
Alternative fuel technology: the starting point of a virtuous cycle for the future of
Imagine a place where farmers and agro-businesses can become energy self-sufficient, where
energy can be made from all sorts of renewable sources —sun, wind, and waste material from
crops, food or animals. Where machinery can be powered from fuels produced on site. Now
think about it — it doesn’t sound like a utopia at all. That’s exactly what New Holland
Agriculture has worked towards since 2009, when it started developing the concept of The
Energy Independent Farm™: a fully sustainable farm.
over twenty years of experience in methane engine technology by its sister brands, FPT and
Iveco, New Holland started developing a Methane strategy, leading to the launch of the
prototype T6 Methane Powered Tractor in 2013.
The T6 Methane Powered Tractor has at least 10% lower CO2 emissions, compared to a
standard diesel tractor when operating in real field conditions, and virtually 0% CO2 emissions
when using Biomethane. It can also pride itself of 80% average less polluting emissions than a
standard diesel tractor and up to 30% lower running costs. In a nutshell: it reduces emissions
and allows for important running cost savings, benefiting both customers and the environment.
THE TRACTOR OF THE FUTURE, TODAY
While the T6 Methane Power is being tested, the next generation of tractors is already here. At
the Farm Progress Show, New Holland Agriculture is exhibiting a new product, the Methane
Power Concept Tractor. The “tractor of the future” combines advanced technology and
ergonomic design to make sure that sustainability and efficiency go hand in hand with comfort
and connectivity. It’s key to the Energy Independent Farm concept, which is at the heart of New
Holland Agriculture’s Clean Energy Leader Strategy.
Concept Tractor ensures sustainable efficient power, while a new seat made of technological
materials and an integrated armrest allow for maximum comfort. It’s equipped with large
windows and a glass dome roof, coupled with cameras that replace conventional mirrors,
providing a 360 degrees visibility in a more spacious setting.
and headliner control screens, making sure the operator has all the information needed at a
glance. In a world where connectivity is essential, the integrated smartphone feature provides
safety and constant communication with the office, feeding live information on weather and
news. While emissions are reduced, production is maximized, while ensuring sustainability and
efficiency. The future of farming starts today.
A MODEL OF ENERGY INDEPENDENT FARM
When, in the early 2000s, David and Christian Peterschmitt decided to modernize the farm their
father and uncle had started over forty years ago, they were just following their elders’ footsteps:
innovation had always been a family tradition. Two years ago though, the brothers took a step
further: they decided to produce biomethane with natural waste on their farm, the SCEA
Longchamps in Andelnans, France. Little did they know they’d be paving the way for an energy
revolution, leading up to becoming the first farm in France to test the new generation of New
Holland Agriculture’s concept tractor powered by methane.
First, they traveled to Switzerland and Germany to see how it was done. Then, on August 5,
2015, the methanisation unit started turning manure and slurry into natural gas. The farm,
located just six kilometres outside of Belfort
in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in
northeastern France, is one of the most important farms in the area. It counts 450 hectares in
total — devoted to different types of cereals and grass transformed into silage — and breeds
300 cows, 200 pigs and 1200 piglets. The biomethane produced from crop waste and animal
waste was soon enough to not only power the farm, but to also sell back to the national grid.
the SCEA Longchamps, during an interview with the local newspaper l’Est Republicain in
December 2015. “It’s the proof that, with ideas and perseverance, we can find solutions,”
Peterschmitt added. One step closer to the Energy Independent Farm becoming a reality.
LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE AND PROFITABLE
The digester plants that can be easily spotted overlooking the fields, driving from the nearby
town of Meroux, are the heart of the industrial process. Every morning and every night, they are
filled with pig and cattle slurry and scrapings — along with other food waste, collected from two
local supermarkets and an ice-cream factory.
biologically as it is digested by bacteria. As it does so, it gives off biogas – including biomethane
– in a two-stage fermentation process lasting around 60 days. The gas then gets purified on site
until becoming 99% methane, the standard needed for a biogas to be reinjected into the
national grid. The residue — both liquid and solid digestate — will later be used as organic
fertilizer in the fields, minimizing waste.
The quantity of biomethane produced at SCEA
Longchamps is 7GWh a year — according to what local press reported, in 2015 that was
sufficient to heat up almost 600 apartments in the Andelnans area, or to power 25 buses. The
farm has been selling surplus gas to Direct Energie with a fixed price for the first fifteen years,
and the initial investments made by the Peterschmitt brothers in 2015 (€2.5 ml) should become
profitable within seven years. But it doesn’t end here.
Keeping production local is an invaluable asset in agriculture. For the Peterschmitts, that
doesn’t simply mean farming anymore, but farming with tractors powered by methane produced
on the farm. They’re installing a high pressure filling station to refuel methane powered cars
and vans on the farm, and testing out the prototype of the new generation of T6 Methane Power
tractor. The virtuous cycle is complete.
LOOKING AHEAD: A VISION FOR FARMING
New Holland Agriculture’s strategy is committed to increasing the productivity and profitability of
its customers through the use of alternative fuels and sustainable agricultural solutions. That’s
true for the present and for the future: for example, the T6 Methane Power Tractor is already
conceived to support future greenhouse gases reductions rules in Europe and elsewhere in the
At SCEA Longchamps, improvements have also been part of a larger national and international
trend, looking at what’s ahead. The farm was one of the first fourteen methane projects already
working in France by December 2015, part of a grand plan to reach at least 100 by 2018. For
now, this farm is well ahead in the race.
time. The Peterschmitt brothers’ forward-thinking attitude represents a new evolution in farming
gaining ground: the young, environmentally-friendly entrepreneur who creates employment,
provides a service by eliminating waste and works towards a local and circular economy. A
leader who innovates, with an eye to sustainability.
energy from it can be really valued in all of France and Europe.” said David Peterschmitt during
an interview at his farm, after testing the prototype of the new generation of methane powered
tractors. “Today, methanisation is at the center of our production.”
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