Turning cow waste into clean power on a national scale

BY Eileen Abbott

A new partnership will convert waste from dairy cows into usable natural gas.

A 1,000-pound dairy cow produces an average of 80 pounds of manure each day. Multiply that by the estimated 9 million dairy cattle in the U.S., and that’s a lot of manure.

Dominion Energy, one of the nation’s largest energy producers — headquartered in Richmond, Va. — wants to put some of that tremendous amount of livestock waste to good use by converting poop into power, while at the same time, reducing pollution.

Already recently partnered with pork giant Smithfield Foods, Dominion has now launched a second waste-to-energy project in a strategic partnership with Vanguard Renewables and the Dairy Farmers of America.

Dominion Energy says its partnership with Smithfield is the nation’s largest renewable natural gas (RNG) partnership and that the Vanguard partnership is the first nationwide network of waste-to-energy projects for dairy. “The projects are a powerful example of the environmental progress we can make through innovation and partnering with other industries,” says Ann Nallo, who works in media relations for Dominion Energy.

By harnessing methane from livestock manure in both projects, the company hopes to simultaneously heat homes and combat climate change. According to Dominion Energy, the hog and dairy projects combined will “generate enough clean energy to heat nearly 100,000 American homes and will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. farms.” The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions “will be equal to taking 650,000 non-electric vehicles off the road or planting nearly 50 million new trees each year,” says Nallo.

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