SoCalGas adds more cows to energy mix – 75,000 now powering grid system


US utility Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) and Calgren Dairy Fuels have increased the number of farms and cows to produce more renewable natural gas.

The two have added four Central Valley dairy farms producing manure for Calgren’s biogas facility in Pixley.

The four farms increase the number of farms producing manure for methane and renewable natural gas production for SoCalGas and Calgren to 10.

The increase in the farms is expected to nearly double the amount of renewable natural gas produced at the facility.

This will help the utility to further reduce its carbon footprint and retire the use of traditional natural gas. SoCalGas committed to delivering 20% of the natural gas it buys for homes and businesses from renewable sources by 2030.

Calgren partnered with Maas Energy Works to develop the four new dairy digesters as well as the previous six dairy digesters that have been operating since 2018.

Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president and chief environmental officer, said: “Over the last five years, renewable natural gas use in the transportation sector has grown by almost 600%.

 “We’re looking to build on that success by delivering more renewable energy options to our customers, including renewable natural gas produced at farms, hydrogen made from surplus solar energy, and advanced fuel cell systems that can provide energy in extreme weather events. Each of these technologies will be essential to promoting the long-term reliability of our energy systems and to meeting California’s ambitious climate goals affordably.”

Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels, adds: “This facility alone will eventually capture methane produced from the manure of more than 75,000 cows, preventing about 130,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 passenger cars off the road annually.”

More than 80% of all methane emissions in California come from organic sources like wastewater treatment plants, landfills, food and green waste and farms.

California has set a goal to reduce methane emissions by 40%  from waste sources such as landfills and dairies, with provisions to deliver that energy to customers.

Renewable natural gas from organic waste could produce enough energy to power more than 2.3 million households in California – University of California 4,450 Trillion Btus of renewable natural gas will be available by 2040, about 90% of the nation’s current residential natural gas consumption – ICF