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CalBio brings two dairy biomethane clusters online

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California Bioenergy (CalBio) has brought two new dairy biomethane projects online.

The South Tulare and North Visalia clusters, both located in Tulare County, are the third and fourth dairy biomethane projects brought online by CalBio in the state of California, joining Kern County and Tulare County.

The South Tulare project will collect, condition, and inject gas into the SoCalGas pipeline from digesters built at nearby dairies. By the end of the year, 15 dairy digesters will be in operation, connected by 41 miles of gathering pipeline. When fully built-out, the South Tulare cluster is expected to connect 30 or more dairies to the pipeline.

The North Visalia cluster will collect gas currently emitted from 12 dairies by the end of the year, adding more dairies in 2022. The dairy biomethane will similarly be injected into the SoCalGas system for delivery to natural gas vehicle fleets.

Both projects are majority-owned by local dairy farmers. CalBio has developed a ‘unique ownership structure’ for dairies to benefit both as investors in multiple clusters and from manure feedstock supply payments.

The dairy families ship milk to three of California’s leading dairy cooperatives: California Dairies, Land O’Lakes, and Dairy Farmers of America.

“Land O’Lakes’s member-owners have long paid thoughtful attention to stewarding the land for their communities and future generations,” said Land O’Lakes’s senior vice-president, Pete Kappelman,  “so it’s no surprise that nine of our members have joined in the latest CalBio expansion to reduce their environmental footprints in an economically viable manner.

“In alignment with our Dairy 2025 Commitment, our member-owners are continually working to stay on the cutting-edge of sustainable farming.”

Both projects received incentive funding from the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, through programmes focused on dairy manure methane reductions.

The South Tulare cluster is expected to reduce methane emissions by the end of the year at a rate of 250,000 tonnes of CO2e per year, and the North Visalia cluster by 150,000 tonnes. Together, the two projects will soon be producing around 8 million diesel gallon equivalents of compressed RNG.

Neil Black, president and co-founder of CalBio, commented: “We began CalBio nearly 15 years ago, with a triple bottom line focus. First, we help protect the environment by achieving methane emission reductions while protecting local air and water quality.

“Second, we support the community by creating good local jobs, establishing scholarship programmes, and supporting renewable energy for rural homes.

“Third, we help advance the sustainability of family dairies, who produce nutritious dairy products for Americans.”

SoCalGas’s chief environmental officer, Jawaad Malik, said the company is happy to be partnering to enhance the state’s clean transport future.

“Our pipelines enable clean, renewable, negative-carbon transportation fuels to replace diesel in heavy-duty trucks and greatly improve air quality and supports our net-zero climate commitment,” he said.