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Brightmark partners with South Dakota dairy farmers in manure-to-RNG project

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California, US-based Brightmark Energy has signed a manure supply agreement with two dairy companies in South Dakota.

The partnership with Boadwine Farms and Moody County Dairy will see Brightmark capture methane produced by 12,000 dairy cows and heifers to convert into renewable natural gas (RNG). It is hoped the project – named the Athena RNG project - will produce 217,000 MMBtu of RNG annually, equivalent to the amount of gas needed to drive 2,494 vehicles for a year.

The Athena project will include the construction of new anaerobic digesters on three farms in Minnehaha County, South Dakota: Boadwine Farms, Pioneer Dairy and Moody Dairy. The cows at these farms produce a total of 55.6 million gallons of manure every year. Once the project is complete, the methane generated by the manure will be captured, cleaned and converted into RNG to be used for transport, cooking and electricity. The gas will be injected into the local interstate pipeline system for use across the state.

“Brightmark is pleased to launch our first project in South Dakota,” said Brightmark CEO Bob Powell. “Our team specialises in deploying energy technologies that turn waste into productive, sustainable energy solutions, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to bring anaerobic digestion (AD) to the state.”

Lynn Boadwine, owner of Boadwine Dairy, said: “As dairy farmers, we can be part of the solution in helping the environment. The digester projects are a win-win because we have the ability to further process the manure, while reducing greenhouse gases.

“Agriculture continually evolves. Our improvements in sustainability in the last generation are just short of incredible. Unfortunately, we don’t often tell our story. We are looking forward to partnering with Brightmark to bring these next generation projects to South Dakota.”

“South Dakota dairy farmers have a history of applying innovative ideas on their farms,” added Tom Peterson, executive director of the South Dakota Dairy Producers. “Digesters offer farmers an additional method of utilising resources in a sustainable manner. In addition, these projects benefit communities with economic contributions in our rural areas.”

The Athena project is expected to prevent 64,567 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to planting around 76,000 acres of forest every year.