Clean Energy Fuels Launches RNG Production Plant at South Dakota Dairy Farm

Clean Energy Fuels' new RNG facility located on a farm in South Dakota

(Credit: Clean Energy Fuels)

by | Feb 12, 2024

Clean Energy Fuels said it has successfully commenced operations at its latest renewable natural gas facility, capable of producing 1 million gallons of negative carbon-intensive renewable natural gas each year.

Clean Energy Fuels creates renewable natural gas (RNG) by capturing methane from organic waste. In the case of the new facility, located on a 5,000-cow dairy farm in South Dakota, digesters are used to process methane caused by livestock waste.

Construction of the site was completed in December of 2023 and cost about $34 million in total, and the site is now generating pipeline-quality RNG. The company is currently working to file applications required to benefit from state and federal environmental credits associated with the new site.

Capturing methane caused by farm waste may significantly reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural sector — the industry accounts for nearly 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Particular attention has gone towards reducing methane emissions caused by livestock as a needed development for meeting global emissions reductions targets.

Not only does the generation of RNG reduce emissions caused by methane, it is also used to replace diesel, and therefore avoid emissions caused by the fossil fuel. According to Clean Energy Fuels, California Air Resources gives RNG from dairy farms an average carbon intensity score of minus-330, reportedly a better score than electric vehicles charging from today’s electricity grid.

Heavy Duty Commercial Vehicles May Benefit from RNG

Recently, leaders within the heavy-duty vehicles industry, including BorgWarner, Cummins, Eaton, and Ford, released a joint statement for the EPA to expedite the finalization of greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

The companies, which together form the Heavy-duty Leadership Group, indicate a commitment to invest in technologies — RNG included–that would meet the new EPA standards. As companies increasingly look for low-emissions fuel alternatives and electrify vehicle fleets, RNG demand is also expected to grow.

“We anticipate 2024 to be a pivotal year in the demand for RNG fuel in the transportation market with the introduction of Cummins’ X15N natural gas engine for heavy-duty trucks,” said Clay Corbus, senior vice president for renewables at Clean Energy Fuels. “Clean Energy’s fueling infrastructure is expanding to meet that demand and we’ll need a constant source of additional low-carbon RNG to supply those stations. The new production facilities at Tri-Cross Dairy and the other farms in the Midwest that are now producing RNG is a critical component to our strategy.”

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