The renewable natural gas (RNG) from biogas producer Calgren Dairy Fuels (Calgren)’s dairy digester facility in Pixley, California is now being injected into SoCalGas pipelines. The project marks the first time that carbon-negative renewable natural gas produced from cow manure has been injected directly into SoCalGas’ natural gas system.
In August 2018, SoCalGas began receiving renewable natural gas into its system from CR&R, Inc.’s anaerobic digestion facility in Perris, California. The renewable natural gas from that digestion facility is already being used to fuel about 400 waste hauling trucks. Renewable natural gas is a carbon-negative fuel produced from waste and agriculture that can be used in trucks and buses, to generate electricity, fuel heating systems in homes and businesses, and for cooking.
“Developing renewable natural gas is a smart and cost-effective solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and building sectors,” said Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president for customer solutions and strategy. “Replacing just 16 to 20 percent of our traditional natural gas with renewable natural gas would reduce emissions equal to electrifying 100 percent of buildings in the state, but it would be two to three times more cost-effective. Moreover, the renewable natural gas solution does not require expensive appliance changeouts or costly new mandates.”
“We are proud of what we have accomplished here,” said Lyle Schlyer, Calgren’s President. “The benefits of this partnership between dairy farmers, private industry and SoCalGas are numerous. We produce clean renewable natural gas for use as a carbon-negative fuel which benefits the local community through cleaner air and jobs.”
Kicking Environmental Goals
“Renewable natural gas options have presented themselves as an incredibly viable way of achieving our environmental sustainability goals,” said Assemblymember Devon J. Mathis. “Tulare County is the dairy capital of the world, and it’s wonderful to see a logical blend of agriculture and technology in a way which benefits everyone. The potential for these technologies is outstanding and deserves to be further developed and funded.”
Calgren’s facility, known as a dairy digester pipeline cluster, will collect biogas from anaerobic digesters at twelve Tulare County dairies then clean it to produce pipeline-quality renewable natural gas. This is the first such dairy digester pipeline cluster in California and is expected to be the largest dairy biogas operation in the U.S. when Calgren adds 9 additional dairies later this year. The facility will capture the methane produced from the manure of more than 75,000 cows, preventing about 130,000 tons 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.
SoCalGas will be capable of adding up to 2.26 billion cubic feet of renewable natural gas each year to its pipeline system from the facility, enough to fuel more than 1,200 Class 8 heavy duty trucks.
Renewable natural gas can be produced from dairy manure, food waste, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants and other sources. Capturing this otherwise wasted gas and turning it into a renewable fuel significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions from these waste sources.
A renewable natural gas solution to reducing emissions from the transportation and building sectors is consistent with the mandate under Senate Bill 1383 to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, 80 percent of which comes from waste streams, dairies and agriculture. Today, there are already 24 California dairy methane capture projects either operating or in development, and experts estimate there could be as many as 120 projects funded and operating in next five years. In addition, as the state seeks to divert organic waste from landfills and capture emissions from wastewater treatment plants, more and more renewable natural gas will become available.
The Calgren project and others like it are 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.
California’s Transportation Sector Cleans Up
Renewable natural gas has already begun to clean the air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California’s transportation sector, which accounts for more than 80 percent of smog forming emissions and about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The latest generation of natural gas engines for heavy duty vehicles can reduce smog-forming emissions by more than 90 percent. When fueled with renewable natural gas, they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more. Already, more than 60 percent of natural gas trucks in California are fueled by renewable gas delivered by SoCalGas pipelines.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States.