Waste Not, Want Not: Partnering with Dairies on Clean, Renewable Energy

When you think of cow waste, your immediate thoughts probably revolve less around an image and more around a smell. Turns out, cow waste can also power farms – and even homes.

Over the course of 2014, Sustainable Conservation assessed the evolution of anaerobic digesters on dairy farms across California. These digesters convert the methane from cow manure into clean, renewable energy, which also prevents harmful greenhouse gases from escaping into our atmosphere. Ultimately, the majority of California’s dairies installing digesters could have the same benefit to our atmosphere as taking one million cars off the road.

Harnessing methane from dairy manure and converting it into energy creates biogas that can be used as renewable electricity or vehicle fuel. Using energy resulting from methane digesters can help reduce a farmer’s cost. It could even replace some of the power coming from fossil-fuel plants.

We’re working with our dairy partners on everything from implementing legislation ensuring dairies receive credits for energy they produce to simplifying the permitting process involved in bringing digesters online.

Our efforts over the last decade have helped launch 16 operating dairy digesters across California today.

What the future of digesters holds remains in flux, but Sustainable Conservation will continue its work in the upcoming year to explore all the possibilities and benefits of cow power.

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