Vanguard Renewables Farm Powered Anaerobic Digester Facility Deerfield Ma

Partnership to Develop First Nationwide Network of Dairy Waste-to-Energy Projects

Dec. 19, 2019
Dominion Energy and Vanguard Renewables join forces to convert methane from U.S. dairy farms into clean, renewable natural gas.

Dominion Energy and Vanguard Renewables recently announced a more than US$200 million, nationwide strategic partnership to convert methane from U.S. dairy farms into clean, renewable natural gas (RNG) that can heat homes, power businesses, and fuel vehicles. Multiple projects are under development in Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah with additional projects planned nationwide. Under the strategic partnership, Dominion Energy will own the projects and market the RNG, and Vanguard Renewables’ subsidiary, Vanguard Renewables Ag will design, develop, and operate the projects.

Methane is produced from a variety of natural sources, including dairy, hog, and food waste. When released into the atmosphere, methane emits approximately 25 times more greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide (CO2). By capturing methane from U.S. dairy farms and converting it into RNG, Dominion Energy’s and Vanguard Renewables’ strategic partnership will reduce annual CO2 equivalent emissions by more than 450,000 metric tons, the same as taking nearly 100,000 cars off the road or planting 7.5 million new trees each year.

Dominion Energy has joined forces with Smithfield Foods to form the largest agricultural-based RNG partnership in the United States, with US$500 million committed over 10 years to convert methane from U.S. hog farms into clean energy for local consumers. Vanguard Renewables Ag focuses on the development and operation of dairy waste-to-energy projects that improve manure and nutrient management and produce clean energy. Host farmers receive a new income stream and can remain focused on farm operations while Vanguard develops and operates the on-farm facilities.

A typical dairy waste-to-energy project consists of a cluster of multiple farms totaling 20,000 to 30,000 dairy cows. The methane produced from dairy manure is captured through a process known as farm-powered anaerobic digestion and is then transported through low-pressure gathering lines to a central conditioning facility. Once the gas is processed and cleaned of any impurities, it is then delivered to local consumers through the existing underground distribution network.

“Through our strategic partnership with Vanguard Renewables and our strategic alliance with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), we’re rapidly accelerating the development of these transformational projects and for the first time on a nationwide scale,” said Diane Leopold, Dominion Energy’s co-chief operating officer. “The environmental, consumer, and agricultural benefits of these projects are truly groundbreaking. We’re substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. dairy farms, delivering new sources of clean energy to U.S. consumers, and providing a new source of long-term revenue for family farmers across the country.”

“Our multi-year alliance with the DFA demonstrates Vanguard Renewables’ commitment to working with the dairy community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance long-term operational and economic benefits for family farmers. For the first time, dairies across the country have partners with substantial financial resources and a deep understanding of the dairy industry working alongside them to take action now to solve these challenges,” said Kevin Chase, co-founder and chief investment officer of Vanguard Renewables and chief executive officer of Vanguard Renewables Ag. “This strategic partnership with Dominion Energy and the DFA will have a meaningful impact on greenhouse gas sequestration and dairy waste-to-energy production that will significantly benefit the farm community and the environment.”

“As the leading dairy cooperative in the United States, we have a long-standing commitment to help family farmer-owners solve challenges,” said David Darr, senior vice president and chief strategy and sustainability officer of the DFA. “Our strategic alliance with Vanguard Renewables and Dominion Energy provides a meaningful solution to the greenhouse gas emissions challenge we face, supports stewardship of the land, and enhances the long-term economic viability for farms across the United States. This is a win-win for the dairy farmers and for the environment.”

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!