Dominion, Vanguard plan $200M effort converting livestock waste into RNG

Photo courtesy Vanguard Renewables.

Virginia-based utility Dominion Energy and Vanguard Renewables are teaming up on a $200 million nationwide partnership focused on converting methane from U.S. dairy farms into renewable natural gas.

The partners already have numerous projects under development in Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Under the strategic partnership, Dominion Energy will own the projects and market the gas, and Vanguard Renewables’ subsidiary Clean Energy Investment USA dba Vanguard Renewables Ag will design, develop and operate the projects.

The deal also expands the companies’ alliance with Dairy Farmers of America to promote greenhouse gas reduction and improve the economic viability of family-owned farms.

“Through our strategic partnership with Vanguard Renewables and our strategic alliance with Dairy Farmers of America, we’re rapidly accelerating the development of these transformational projects and for the first time on a nationwide scale,” said Diane Leopold, Dominion Energy’s Co-Chief Operating Officer. “The environmental, consumer and agricultural benefits of these projects are truly groundbreaking.

“We’re substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. dairy farms, delivering new sources of clean energy to U.S. consumers and providing a new source of long-term revenue for family farmers across the country,” Leopold added.

Dominion previously announced a $500 million venture with Smithfield Foods to capture methane from the latter’s hog farms and convert it into RNG. The two companies have formed a joint venture called Align RNG.

Methane is produced from a variety of natural sources, including dairy, hog and food waste. When released into the atmosphere, methane emits approximately 25 times more greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. By capturing methane from U.S. dairy farms and converting it into RNG, Dominion Energy’s and Vanguard Renewables’ strategic partnership will reduce annual CO2 equivalent emissions by more than 450,000 metric tons, the same as taking nearly 100,000 cars off the road or planting 7.5 million new trees each year, according the press release.

“As the leading dairy cooperative in the U.S., we have a long-standing commitment to help family farmer-owners solve challenges,” said David Darr, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer of Dairy Farmers of America. “Our strategic alliance with Vanguard Renewables and Dominion Energy provides a meaningful solution to the greenhouse gas emissions challenge we face, supports stewardship of the land, and enhances the long-term economic viability for farms across the U.S.,” Darr continued. “This is a win-win for the dairy farmers and for the environment.”

A typical dairy waste-to-energy project consists of a cluster of multiple farms totaling 20,000 to 30,000 dairy cows. The methane produced from dairy manure is captured through a proprietary process known as Farm Powered anaerobic digestion and is then transported through low-pressure gathering lines to a central conditioning facility. Once the gas is processed and cleaned of any impurities, it is then delivered to local consumers through the existing underground distribution network.

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