June 13, 2021. California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio) has brought online two new dairy biomethane clusters, the South Tulare and North Visalia clusters, both located in Tulare County, California. CalBio is a leading dairy digester developer in the U.S. with over 90 projects operating or in development.
The South Tulare and North Visalia projects are the third and fourth dairy biomethane clusters brought online by CalBio in California, joining clusters in Kern County (Bakersfield, CA) and Tulare County (Visalia, CA). In addition, CalBio has new cluster projects in development in California and elsewhere in the country.
The South Tulare cluster will collect, condition, and inject gas into the SoCalGas pipeline from digesters built at nearby dairies. By year end 15 dairy digesters will be in operation, connected by 41 miles of gathering pipeline. When fully built out, the cluster is anticipated to connect 30 or more dairies to the pipeline. The North Visalia cluster will collect gas currently emitted from 12 dairies by year end, adding more dairies in 2022. The dairy biomethane will similarly be injected into the SoCalGas system for delivery to natural gas vehicle fleets.
The South Tulare and North Visalia clusters are majority owned by local dairy farmers. CalBio has developed a unique ownership structure for dairies to benefit both as investors in multiple clusters and from manure feedstock supply payments.
Both clusters received incentive funding from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, through programs focused on dairy manure methane reductions. The South Tulare cluster is projected to reduce methane emissions by the end of 2021 at a rate of 250,000 metric tons of CO2e per year and the North Visalia cluster by 150,000 metric tons. Together the two clusters will soon be producing approximately 8 million diesel gallon equivalents of compressed renewable natural gas (RNG).
In addition to substantial greenhouse gas reduction benefits, when used to replace diesel fuel in heavyduty trucks, dairy RNG also provides substantial air quality benefits by reducing oxides of nitrogen (NOX) emissions by 90 percent and other criteria pollutants, particularly important reductions for California’s San Joaquin Valley. “We’re happy to be partnering to enhance California’s clean transportation future,” said Jawaad Malik, Chief Environmental Officer with SoCalGas. “Our pipelines enable clean, renewable, negative carbon transportation fuels to replace diesel in heavy duty trucks and greatly improve air quality and supports our net zero climate commitment.”