How it works

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We partner with the farmer and invest in designs and equipment for today and the next generation

CalBio designs, develops, operates and finances, as needed, digester projects. We have learned what works based on over a decade in the business, building digesters for California dairies. We are experienced in the key project components: engineering, permitting, equipment selection, construction, and operation management.

We are experts in generating electricity and, in the near future, will be producing renewable natural gas (RNG) for use as a vehicle fuel. We work closely with the state and federal agencies on grant and environmental credit programs to make your project an economic success. We have won grants from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utility Commission and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District 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

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 the digester.

2. Biogas Capture

2. Biogas Capture

In the 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 via combustion to generate either renewable electricity or Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) which is used to power a truck, bus, or car.

In RNG projects the dairy biomethane is injected into the utility pipeline and used to power a California vehicle.  The revenue is based on the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit, the US EPA Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credit, and the sale of the methane itself.

In electricity projects electricity is exported to the grid. One revenue source is the BioMAT program with PG&E and SCE, and revenue is enhanced by storing the biogas and producing electricity at the most valuable time of day. Electricity can also be used in electric vehicles which will generate LCFS credits.

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 crop yield 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.

LCFS Credits and RINS

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a program developed by ARB which is designed to decrease the overall carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuel pool. California Bioenergy participates in this program by producing renewable natural gas from our dairy digesters which is used to displace demand for diesel. Dairy biogas is among the least carbon-intensive fuels available which makes it one of the best alternatives to traditional fossil fuels.

CalBio is committed to creating LCFS credits with the highest environmental integrity. We generate these credits in accordance with 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.

Each LCFS credit represents one metric ton of “CO2 equivalent” which has been avoided from being released into the atmosphere due to the capture and beneficial use of methane from the digesters. Every metric ton of methane captured and destroyed is the equivalent of removing 25 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In addition, CalBio participates in the U.S. EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program which provides “Renewable Identification Numbers” or “RINs” for every gallon of renewable fuel that is used to displace fossil fuels. Dairy biogas is considered a cellulosic biofuel and therefore eligible for the D-3 RINs category which is used for the highest level of lifecycle greenhouse gas reductions. We ensure that every RIN is certified under a Quality Assurance Plan (QAP) to verify that the credits have been properly generated and are valid for compliance purposes.