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Dairy biogas operation expands in California

Published by , Assistant Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Calgren Dairy Fuels and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) have announced that four additional Central Valley dairies have started sending methane produced from cow manure to Calgren's biogas operation in Pixley, US, where it is processed into high-quality, renewable natural gas (RNG) and injected into SoCalGas' system.

The Calgren facility now collects methane from more than 66 000 cows at 10 area dairy farms. The additional dairies are projected to nearly double the amount of RNG produced at the facility, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and displacing more traditional natural gas. Calgren has partnered with Maas Energy Works to develop these four new dairy digesters as well as the previous six dairy digesters that have been operating since 2018.

RNG can rapidly cut GHGs because it takes more climate pollution out of the air than it emits as an energy source. The RNG produced at Calgren's facility is used as a carbon-negative fuel for heavy-duty vehicles like transit buses and long-haul trucks. Since 2015, RNG use as a transportation fuel has increased by 577%, helping displace over seven million t of CO2 equivalent.

More than 80% of all methane emissions in California come from organic sources like wastewater treatment plants, landfills, food and green waste and farms. In California, a 2016 law requires a 40% reduction of methane emissions from waste sources such as landfills and dairies, with provisions to deliver that energy to customers. The law is expected to bolster the supply of RNG that is already growing rapidly. In the US, a recently released study by ICF estimates that 4450 trillion Btu of RNG will be available by 2040, about 90% of the nation's current residential natural gas consumption.

SoCalGas is working to make RNG available to fuel the homes of the company's 21 million customers across Southern California. As part of a broad, inclusive and integrated plan, the company has committed to replace 20% of its traditional natural gas supply with RNG by 2030.

To kickstart the plan, SocalGas is pursuing regulatory authority to implement a broad RNG procurement program with a goal of replacing 5% of its natural gas supply with RNG by 2022. The company also recently filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission to allow customers to purchase RNG for their homes.

Research shows that replacing about 20% of California's traditional natural gas supply with RNG could be two to three times less expensive than any all-electric strategy and does not require families or businesses to purchase new appliances or take on costly construction projects.

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