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SoCalGas and Calgren announce completion of dairy renewable natural gas facility

Published by , Digital Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Calgren's dairy biogas operation captures methane from animal waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide pipeline quality renewable natural gas.

The project, located in the Central Valley community of Pixley, is the first of its kind in California and is expected to be the largest dairy biogas operation in the US by the end of 2019. At the new facility, Calgren collects cow manure – a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions - from four local dairy farms and processes it in an anaerobic digestor that accelerates the natural decomposition process. Methane emissions (biogas) from that process are captured and converted to make renewable vehicle fuels. Producing pipeline quality renewable natural gas (RNG) that is then injected into the SoCalGas pipeline system which allows Calgren to supply RNG to existing compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling facilities. Ultimately, this also has the potential to be delivered to customers to fuel ultra-low emissions trucks and buses, generate clean electricity, and heat homes and businesses.

Calgren plans to partner with eight additional dairy farms by the end of 2019, which will make the facility the largest dairy biogas project in the US. At a ceremony marking the completion of the project, SoCalGas presented Calgren with a US$5 million incentive check, authorised by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to support the development of renewable energy projects.

"As part of our vision to be the cleanest natural gas company in North America, we have committed to replacing 20% of the natural gas we deliver today with renewable natural gas, primarily from organic sources, by 2030," said Jeff Walker, Vice president of Customer Solutions at SoCalGas. "Renewable natural gas is a ready, reliable and realistic way to reduce GHG emissions and pollution from heavy duty transportation and buildings and will help ensure that families and businesses have an affordable option for heating and cooking as California transitions to a clean energy future."

"Calgren is proud to be the first facility in California to operate a dairy digester pipeline cluster and to work with both the dairies and SoCalGas to mitigate emissions," said Walt Dwelle, Principal Owner of Calgren Renewable Fuels. "This facility alone will eventually capture methane produced from the manure of more than 75 000 cows, preventing about 130 000 t of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of taking more than 25 000 passenger cars off the road for a year."

The dairy digesters in the Calgren project and others like it are also partly funded under California's Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manure generated at state dairy farms. The state currently has about 30 operational dairy RNG projects and 50 more in various stages of development that will result in more than 50 million t of greenhouse gas reduction (CO2e) over the next 20 years, according to the industry group Dairy Cares. Experts estimate as many as 120 projects could be funded and operating in the next five years.

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