Is this just a cow pie in the sky? Sure, the puns practically write themselves, but powering electric vehicles through dairy farms isn’t funny business in California. It’s happening now! Using a covered lagoon and “climate-smart digester,” Bar 20 Dairy, a farm based near Fresno, is capturing the methane from their cows’ manure, and converting it into electricity. Digesters, most simply put, are microbe-filled, sealed reactors that consume the waste we put into them, producing something useful (or at least less harmful) during the digestion process.
This is truly amazing stuff. Bar 20 has been using its digester since late 2021 and has already seen great results. The eventual goal is to produce more energy than is used at the farm, which is not at all unrealistic. Reducing carbon emissions from both vehicles and agriculture while simultaneously gaining something positive are obvious boons, but there are other benefits, as well: fertilizer and animal bedding are also produced by the digestion process. The catch? Getting started with this process is expensive. There are currently 40 operational digesters and several more on the way, but at least currently, these projects are generally unaffordable without the help of state incentives and private investors.