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Digester powers electric vehicles

Digester powers electric vehicles

A California digester is capturing methane from dairy manure and generating renewable electricity. That electricity is then transmitted via the grid to power BMW electric vehicles.

The new project is expected to provide air-quality benefits. Methane emission reductions at the farm combined with the renewable-energy generation will result in the carbon-emission equivalent of providing clean power to more than 17,000 electric vehicles per year, according to the project’s partners – California Bioenergy, Bloom Energy and BMW North America. They’re working with Bar 20 Dairy of Kerman, California. The farm is owned and operated by the Shehadey family.

The digester feeds into fuel cells for electricity production. On-site Bloom Energy Servers are comprised of solid oxide fuel cells.

“Reducing dairy-methane emissions is about 80 times more effective at cooling the planet in our lifetime than reducing a similar amount of carbon dioxide,” said N. Ross Buckenham, CEO of CalBio. “Although we need to do both, dairy methane reduction is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to limit the effects of global warming.”

The on-dairy power-generation system scales from small to large dairies. It produces renewable power 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. It also supports grid resiliency, he said.

The project was made possible through state incentive programs and private investors. It received funding from the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, which is administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It also received funding from the Self Generation Incentive Program, administered by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Access to revenue generated by California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits helps make private-capital investments possible. The project employs two new full-time employee equivalents to operate and manage the system. Partnering companies are exploring implementation of the technology at other San Joaquin Valley dairies. Visit and and for more information.

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