Bioenergy and the Dairy Sector

California is the largest dairy state in the United States, providing a large share of the country’s milk and dairy products.  Unfortunately, dairies are also California’s largest source of methane emissions, a climate super pollutant.  Dairy manure can, however, be converted to carbon negative energy, eliminating methane emissions and providing negative carbon emissions instead.   According to the California Air Resources Board, investments in dairy digesters, which convert dairy waste to energy,  are the most effective and the most cost-effective of all of the state’s investments in carbon reductions.

California’s dairy cows produce enough waste to generate 550 megawatts of renewable electricity or more than 100 million gallons per year of carbon negative transportation fuels. Biomethane generated from dairy waste is the lowest carbon fuel of any in existence, more than 500 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.  Dairy waste can also be used to generate flexible generation renewable power, which is critical to complement wind and solar power because it’s available 24/7 and can be stored and used as needed.  In addition to cutting methane emissions and producing renewable energy, converting dairy waste to energy reduces air and water pollution from dairies, cuts odors, and can provide revenue and onsite energy supplies to dairy farms.

To learn more, see Bioenergy and Dairies

Bioenergy Critical to Climate

Bioenergy is critical to slow global warming right away and to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  That’s because bioenergy can reduce the most damaging climate pollutants known as Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs).  Climate scientists agree that we have less than a decade left to avert catastrophic – and largely irreversible – climate change.  The most effective tool we have – the last lever we have left – is to reduce SLCP emissions.  And bioenergy can do that more effectively than other tools because it cuts methane and black carbon emissions – two of the most damaging SLCPs – from organic waste, including landfills and dairies, agricultural waste, and forest waste or other vegetation removed to reduce wildfire risks.  Bioenergy can also provide carbon negative emissions needed to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  And, according to the California Air Resources Board, it provides the most cost-effective of all carbon emissions.

Read more about Bioenergy and Climate

Bioenergy 101

California generates 37 million tons of organic waste per year, waste that can be used to generate 2.4 billion gallons of low carbon transportation fuel or 6,000 megawatts of renewable power, more than ten percent of the state’s total transportation fuel or electricity needs. Organic waste can be used to produce the lowest carbon transportation fuel of any kind, cut toxic air pollution from diesel powered trucks, produce renewable power that’s available 24/7,  reduce wildfires and landfilling, create good jobs and instate energy supplies.

To learn more, download BAC Fact Sheet – Bioenergy 101

Bioenergy and the Forest Sector

California forests provide a critical carbon sink that is quickly going up in smoke.  Wildfire now causes two-thirds of California’s black carbon emissions, a powerful climate pollutant and threat to public health. A single large wildfire can emit as much climate pollution as several million cars and a bad wildfire season can produce as much climate pollution as the state’s entire transportation or energy sector in a year.  Bioenergy is an important tool to reduce wildfire emissions and restore carbon to California’s forests.  Increasing forest biomass power can reduce the devastating impacts of wildfire, protect public health and safety, and provide local jobs and economic development. Forest biomass can provide flexible generation power to meet the state’s renewable electricity goals and can provide low carbon fuels, heating and other energy needs.

To learn more, download BAC Fact Sheet – Bioenergy in the Forest Sector

Bionergy and the Solid Waste Sector

California landfills millions of tons of food, yard and other organic waste each year.  Converting that waste to energy and the biogas generated from waste already in landfills could generate nearly 1 billion gallons per year of low carbon transportation fuels or almost 4,000 MW of renewable electricity – enough to power more than 1 million homes. The public health and economic benefits of converting that organic waste to energy would be huge, including:

  • Producing low carbon and carbon negative transportation fuels;
  • Cutting toxic air pollutants and smog, especially in Disadvantaged Communities;
  • Producing baseload and flexible generation renewable power needed to complement wind and solar;
  • Helping California to meet its waste diversion goals;
  • Producing jobs and revenues in every region of the state.

To learn more, download BAC Fact Sheet – Bioenergy in the Solid Waste Sector

Bioenergy and the Wastewater Sector

California has roughly 250 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) that can be major producers of renewable energy and transportation fuels.  Many of these facilities use the biogas generated from anaerobic digestion of wastewater solids to provide onsite power, using renewable gas instead of fossil fuels to power their operations. California’s WWTPs have the potential to generate significant additional power and to produce ultra-low carbon transportation fuels, lower carbon per mile than electric or fuel cell vehicles. Increasing fuel and energy production from California’s WWTPs will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, provide energy and/or revenue to public agencies, produce jobs and economic development, and increase in-state renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.

To learn more, download BAC Fact Sheet – Bioenergy in the Wastewater Sector