California utilities issue solicitation for dairy biomethane projects

Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), San Diego Gas & Electric, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southwest Gas have jointly issued a draft solicitation for dairy biomethane pilot projects.

The solicitation is issued under California Senate Bill 1383, and projects proposed must demonstrate the ability to capture and process biogas from cows to produce renewable natural gas.

SB1383 has been created to reduce methane emissions from agriculture in the state by 2020.

“This is an exciting first step to building the market for renewable natural gas,” said Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions and communications at SoCalGas.

“Renewable natural gas, with its ability to turn methane emissions into a source of energy, is a critical element of a comprehensive approach to climate change, and we look forward to supporting these efforts.”

Proposed projects will be selected by the California Public Utilities Commission, California Air Resources Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The Projects will be selected based on an evaluation of the proposed business model, likely greenhouse gas reductions realised, and cost-effectiveness of achieving these reductions, environmental benefits, disadvantaged community benefits and project readiness.

"The capture of biogas from agriculture is an innovative way to produce renewable natural gas to fuel our homes and businesses while helping achieve the state's climate goals," said Michael Schneider, chief environmental officer and vice president of operations support and sustainability for SDG&E. "These pilot projects will help us identify a largely untapped energy resource and put organic waste to work for California."

Last year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture issued $35 million (€28.6 million) in grant funding to support dairy biogas development. The Department is expected to provide an additional $61 - $75 million in funding for new dairy biogas projects in 2018. At present, 40 projects are in development, while experts suggest as many as 120 could be in development by 2022.

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