SoCalGas and Calgren announce completion of dairy renewable natural gas facility

Source: press release, 29 July 2019

Biogas is cleaned and conditioned to remove or reduce non-methane elements in order to produce RNG, which once processed, is interchangeable with traditional pipeline-quality natural gas
Biogas is cleaned and conditioned to remove or reduce non-methane elements in order to produce RNG, which once processed, is interchangeable with traditional pipeline-quality natural gas (illustration: American Gas Association)

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has joined Calgren Dairy Fuels, and California state and local elected officials to announce the completion of Calgren’s dairy renewable natural gas facility. 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 U.S. later this year. 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 nation. At a ceremony marking the completion of the project, SoCalGas presented Calgren with a USD 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,” says 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,” says 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 tonnes 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.”

RNG is a renewable fuel produced from food waste, farms, landfills, and even sewer systems. It can rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) because it takes more climate pollution out of the air than it emits as an energy source. RNG is already helping eliminate emissions from trucks and buses. Over the last 5 years, RNG use as a transportation fuel has increased 577%, helping displace over seven million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (how greenhouse gas emissions are measured). That’s equal to the total energy used by more than 868,000 homes for one year.

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