- Chevron and waste solutions company Brightmark on Wednesday announced the first delivery of renewable natural gas from a Florida dairy farm, part of the companies’ efforts to turn methane from cow manure into clean energy.
- The shipment came from four lagoon anaerobic digesters located at Larson Family Farms in Okeechobee County, Florida. The natural gas will be used as transportation fuel, while leftover solids will be turned into fertilizer.
- The Larson farm marks Chevron and Brightmark’s first clean energy project in Florida. The two companies teamed in 2020 on a joint venture to fund dairy digester projects throughout the U.S. and expand supply of the renewable natural gas biomethane.
Dairy manure is the largest source of methane in the U.S. in terms of livestock waste. Better manure management could help companies reduce their emissions while providing farmers with a secondary stream of income.
“Our continued partnership with Brightmark demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of this project for it to be sustainable and beneficial to farmers like us,” Woody Larson, founding rancher of Larson Family Farms parent company Family Tree Enterprises, said in a statement. “The value of the RNG produced balances the offsets associated with production while maintaining the health of the farm and its animals.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported there is potential for anaerobic digester systems on about 2,700 additional dairy farms, which would reduce emissions equivalent to planting nearly 500 million trees.
Farmers have remained reluctant to adopt anaerobic digesters due to the high costs of building and maintaining the systems. Low electricity rates have made it difficult for projects to remain profitable, according to the EPA, and revenue from renewable electricity generation is often not enough to cover costs.
Partnering with organizations could allow dairy farmers to achieve greater revenues as companies are willing to pay premiums for renewable energy or carbon offsets. Chevron purchases renewable energy from dairy digesters run by Brightmark, which works with farmers to get systems up and running.
Chevron and Brightmark had 20 renewable natural gas projects around the country as of May. The companies recently expanded the initiative to build five new anaerobic digestion projects in western Michigan.