Bloom Energy delivers renewable power from dairy farm waste

By Bloom Energy | November 09, 2021

Bloom Energy on Nov. 8 announced a 1 megawatt (MW) fuel cell deployment at Bar 20 Dairy Farms in Kerman, California to efficiently produce on-site, renewable electricity from dairy cow manure. The installation marks Bloom’s first dairy farm biogas project.

To turn cow waste into renewable electricity, Bar 20 Dairy Farms combined a methane digester, gas clean-up skid, and Bloom Energy fuel cells for an end-to-end, waste-to-electricity solution. The California Bioenergy (CalBio) digesters capture biogas, primarily consisting of methane, released from the anaerobic decomposition of dairy manure. After being cleaned in a separation skid, the biogas is then converted to renewable electricity through an electrochemical process, without combustion through Bloom Energy’s fuel flexible, solid oxide fuel cells.

Dairy biogas contains up to 65 percent methane. The waste-to-electricity solution captures methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, while reducing carbon emissions in electricity generation and vehicle fuel.

Bloom’s Energy Servers generate enough electricity to operate the gas clean-up skid and to meet the energy needs of the dairy farm. Excess power is deployed to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across California. Dairy farms, like Bar 20 Dairy Farms, which provide renewable electricity to charge EVs in California, are able to participate in the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program, providing a new income opportunity for farmers.

“Finite resources don’t mean finite energy, rather, it means doing smarter things with the resources we have,” said Sharelynn Moore, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Bloom Energy. “Bar 20 Dairy Farms has long understood that the actions they take today will have benefits for years to come for both their industry and for their communities. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a short lifespan in our atmosphere. This means that capturing and utilizing waste methane as a renewable fuel is a powerful way to positively and quickly impact climate change. Bloom Energy is proud to play a part in their journey and demonstrate that fuel cells are a strong part of the low-carbon solution.”

“At Bar 20, we see ourselves as environmental stewards playing a substantive role in California’s sustainability,” said Steve Shehadey, partner, Bar 20 Dairy Farms. “Through this deployment we can further our efforts to use cost-effective and clean solutions that benefit our farms and our communities, supporting cleaner local air and mitigating the farm’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. We are demonstrating that realistic climate solutions are available and can be deployed today.”

In California, there are hundreds of megawatts of economically viable dairy biogas. With significant deployments of dairy digesters throughout the California dairy industry, there is a need for on-site power generation solutions that use the captured biogas to generate renewable electricity without combustion. Bar 20 Dairy Farms’ leadership in prioritizing climate-conscious energy solutions can serve as a catalyst for more California dairies to adopt technologies that support local environmental and global climate initiatives.

California’s Central Valley, especially the San Joaquin Valley where many dairies are located, has some of the worst air quality in the United States, as well as the highest rates of childhood asthma in California. Using fuel cells to generate electricity from dairy biogas, instead of combustion engines, eliminates smog-forming emissions and provides improvements for local air quality and public health.

The Bloom Energy Server eliminates the majority of air pollution that is harmful to local communities and has far fewer carbon emissions than legacy technologies. The Energy Servers are designed to generate power 24 x 7 x 365 and with a modular design can be configured to eliminate the need for traditional backup power equipment and scaled up as power demand grows.