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California funds five dairy digester projects

Projects aimed at cutting emissions

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

In an effort to help cut emissions contributing to global warming and generate revenue for the state, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CFDA) is investing in five dairy digester projects.

The projects, who will share approximately $11.1 million in grants will look to turn biogas into energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy manure.

“These projects demonstrate a commitment by California to support efforts by dairy farmers to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gases from the agriculture sector,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This is definitely a win-win for agriculture: cutting methane emissions and improving the environment while also generating revenue from renewable bioenergy.”

Digesters collect manure, which produces methane as it decomposes. The methane can be used in a variety of ways including as a biofuel to power generators or fuel for natural gas vehicles.

Dairy cow

Two of the funded projects are taking place at Philip Verwey Farms in Hanford Kings County. One project will use $3 million for a covered lagoon digester. The biogas from the digester can produce about 7.6 million kWh (kilowatthours) of electricity. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that in 2013, the annual electricity consumption was 10,908 kWh.

The other projects are taking place at Open Sky Ranch Inc., AgPower Visalia LLC and West-Star North Dairy Biogas.

The dairy digester projects also help California meet the goals set out by Governor Edmund Brown to reduce greenhouse gasses to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

In 2009, Germany produced enough electricity from biogas initiatives to power nearly 3.5 million homes.

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