About

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We partner with the farmer and invest in designs and equipment for the long-run

CalBio designs, develops, operates and finances as needed digester projects. We have learned what works based on ten years in the business, building digesters specifically for California dairies. We understand the upfront engineering, needed equipment, required permits, and ongoing operation management.

We are also experts in the programs to sell the electricity or produce vehicle fuel and in the essential state and federal grant programs to make your project an economic success. We have won grants from the California Energy Commission, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District grants, and have utilized U.S. Treasury tax programs and USDA farm incentives.

Founded with a dairy farmer, and working in partnership with 4Creeks, we also focus on enhancing dairy operations – based on your specific needs, to save you time, money and set you on a strong course for the future.

The Process

CalBio’s process consists of four main steps: Waste Collection, Gas Capture, Renewable Electricity and Fuel Production, and Effluent Use.

1. Waste Collection

1. Waste Collection

Waste collection is integrated with a dairy’s existing operations. Manure is flushed into collection areas and then flows to an anaerobic digester, with solids separation before or after the digester, depending on the technology utilized at a given dairy. (The chosen technology reflects the dairy’s manure management system and nutrient management needs).

2. Biogas Capture

2. Biogas Capture

In an anaerobic digester, microorganisms break down the organic matter and create biogas, which is then trapped in the digester. The captured biogas primarily consists of methane that otherwise would have been released to the atmosphere.

3. Renewable Energy

3. Renewable Energy

The methane is then destroyed by combusting it to generate renewable electricity or to power a truck, bus or car.

In electricity projects electricity is exported to the grid. The primary revenue source is the BioMAT program with PG&E and SCE and revenue is enhanced by the storing the biogas and producing electricity at the most valuable time of day. The secondary revenue stream is the sale of carbon credits. In vehicle fuel projects the primary revenue sources are California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the federal RIN programs.

4. Effluent Use

4. Effluent Use

The digested effluent water can be recycled as flush water, resulting in cleaner lanes, better hygiene and less slips and falls. The digestion process increases the conversion of the raw manure’s organic nitrogen into an inorganic form (over 60% conversion) making the nitrogen more available to the crops, improving planning and saving costs.

Renewable Energy — With Valuable Uses

Digesters generate biogas, which primarily consists of methane, an energy-rich fuel. The methane can be used to generate electricity or as a vehicle fuel. Electricity can be sold to the utility, stored to generate electricity at the most needed hours of the day, or used onsite by the farmer.

As a source of electricity, dairy biogas projects are unique since they can store the biogas energy and produce electricity as needed. Unlike solar and wind projects, which are intermittent, and depend on the sun shining or favorable wind conditions, CalBio can store up to four days of energy generation potential by collecting the biogas under a covered lagoon. CalBio is then able to generate the electricity when it is needed most by the grid. As a result, California dairy digester projects can serve as an important complement to solar and wind.

Alternatively, the methane can be utilized by trucks, buses and cars. We are now planning on using the biogas as a vehicle fuel and our Kern County initiative is one of the Pilot Projects in California’s Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

Carbon Credits

The act of paying someone else to reduce greenhouse emissions is called “carbon offsetting.” A carbon offset is an instrument that represents the avoided emission of one metric ton (2,205 lbs) of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas. Developers like California Bioenergy create projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create offsets, which are then sold on to companies and organizations who use them to reach their compliance requirements or voluntary emissions goals.

Offsets are usually expressed as metric tons of “CO2 equivalent,” because offset projects can capture or destroy other greenhouse gases as well. Emissions reductions are converted into CO2e based on their global warming potential. For example, based on the current ARB livestock protocol methane is converted at 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

CalBio is committed to creating offsets with the highest environmental integrity. The offsets are generated according to the Air Resources Board’s Compliance Offset Protocol – Livestock Projects. Credits are verified by an approved, independent third-party to ensure that they meet protocol standards and have been calculated accurately.

Digester Technologies

Projects are designed to enhance existing dairy operations and maximize project success. We are technology neutral. Digester technologies are chosen that best fit the manure management practices and nutrient needs of the dairy.

• Flush dairies are usually best suited for lagoon digesters, which save investment and operating costs and provide the ability to store biogas to enhance revenues. Reflecting the widespread flush practices, lagoon digesters make up the majority of CalBio’s and 4Creeks’ projects. Ten years of work have led to important advancements and patents in lagoon biogas storage.

• Scrape and vacuum dairies can take advantage of technologies built for them, such as American plug-flow digester and European tank digesters. CalBio was involved in the first flush to scrape conversion for a digester projects. These systems can support the export of nutrients in land-constrained dairies.