Brightmark, a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, has signed a manure supply agreement with two South Dakota dairy companies, Boadwine Farms, Inc. and Mooody County Dairy Limited Partnership, to capture methane produced by nearly 12,000 dairy cows and heifers and convert it into renewable natural gas. The project is anticipated to produce 217,000 MMBtu of renewable natural gas each year, which is equivalent to the amount of gas needed to drive 2,492 vehicles for a full year. Brightmark is developing the project, and the company will also own and operate it upon completion.

The Athena renewable natural gas (RNG) project will include the construction of new anaerobic digesters on three Minnehaha County farms: Boadwine Farms, Pioneer Dairy, and Moody Dairy. The 11,710 dairy cows and heifers that live on these farms produce a total of 55.6 million gallons of manure each year. After the project is complete, the methane generated by this manure will be captured, cleaned, and converted into RNG, which can be used for transportation, cooking, or electricity. The gas will be injected into the local interstate pipeline system for use statewide.

“Brightmark is pleased to launch our first project in South Dakota. Our team specializes in deploying energy technologies that turn waste into productive, sustainable energy solutions, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to bring anaerobic digestion to the state,” said CEO Bob Powell.

Dairy-derived RNG packs major benefits for the climate. It is the lowest carbon intensity transportation fuel available because it greatly reduces the emission of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from lagoon-stored manure and wastewater. The Athena project is anticipated to prevent 64,567 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, which is equivalent to planting nearly 76,000 acres of forest each year.