North Visalia dairies will send methane from manure to Goshen facility where it will be made into renewable natural gas fuel
By Reggie Ellis
VISALIA – Dairymen farming in North Visalia will soon be part of a growing trend to convert manure into fuel.
At its Feb. 11 meeting, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved environmental documents for a dairy digester facility in Goshen that will take methane from surrounding dairies, refine it into renewable natural gas (RNG) and then add it to Southern California Gas’ pipeline to be used as fuel.
The project, located on the west side of Road 68 just north of Avenue 312, is one of three Dairy Pilot Projects proposed by Visalia-based California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio) and approved by the state in 2018. Known as biomethane clusters, the facilities allow multiple dairies to send conditioned biogas captured from manure to a centralized upgrading facility where it will be upgraded into RNG and then injected into the public utility pipeline.
“CalBio is honored to have been selected to develop these pilot projects which will produce clean, renewable CNG which will significantly lower the carbon intensity of California’s transportation and agriculture sectors,” CalBio CEO N. Ross Buckenham said in 2018. “These projects represent a true public-private partnership. They help to create local jobs and generate a new revenue stream for the dairies, all while helping the state achieve its climate goals.”
CalBio digesters act as a large stomach using microorganisms to break down the manure and create biogas, primarily consisting of methane, which is then trapped in the digester instead of being released into the atmosphere. The biomethane is then converted to RNG to be used as an alternative to diesel fuel in heavy-duty trucks, buses and farm equipment.
The dairy biomethane pilot program is part of the state’s strategy to reduce emissions of shortlived climate pollutants, including methane, which is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Legislation adopted in 2016 requires the state to reduce methane emissions from the dairy and other livestock sectors by 40% by 2030. Emissions from dairy manure account for approximately 25% of the state’s overall methane emissions. The interagency committee that selected the projects consisted of representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
“We are looking forward to participating in the program,” said Jay te Velde, a dairy farmer in North Visalia. “As a dairy in an ever-changing regulatory environment, it’s terrific that the state, under the direction of CARB, CDFA, the CPUC and the legislature, is putting forth these incentives to capture methane with the farmer in mind.”
CalBio’s North Visalia cluster, as well as clusters in South Tulare and Buttonwillow, were awarded funding which adds to its existing clusters and projects being developed in Bakersfield, Hanford, West Visalia, and Fresno and Merced counties.
“We would like to thank the Selection Committee for entrusting us with the development of these Dairy Pilot Projects” CalBio President Neil Black said in 2018. “It is our goal to ensure that these dairy clusters are successfully deployed throughout the San Joaquin Valley.”
CalBio is directly involved in half of the 123 dairy digester projects in operation or development across the state. Ninety-four percent of those projects are at San Joaquin Valley dairies, 55 of which are in Tulare County. According to DairyCares.com, a single cow can generate enough renewable fuel to drive a car across the country. Five cows are enough to power a house for an entire year.
About California Bioenergy CalBio is the leading developer of dairy digesters generating renewable electricity and vehicle fuel in California. Founded in 2006, CalBio has worked closely with the dairy industry and state agencies to develop programs to help the state achieve its methane reduction goals while delivering a new revenue source to California dairies. For more information, visit: www.calbioenergy.com.