Groundbreaking held for renewable natural gas project at Larson Dairy

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Brightmark, a waste solutions company based out of California, broke ground on a renewable natural gas project at Larson Dairy in Okeechobee on Nov. 13.

The event was attended by Okeechobee County Commissioners Terry Burroughs, Brad Goodbread, Kelly Owens,  David Hazellief, and Bryant Culpepper. New Florida statehouse representative-elect Kaylee Tuck was also in attendance for the groundbreaking.

New anaerobic digesters will be built at four Larson family dairy farms in Okeechobee County.   Two of the farms are owned by Larson Dairy, Inc. and two farms owned by JM Larson, Inc. After the project is complete, the digesters are anticipated to generate about 171,000 MMBtu of renewable natural gas each year. The gas will be delivered into the local interstate gas pipeline system.

Manure will be collected into the digestor tank. There, as it decomposes, it will release a mixture of gases, including methane. Once that methane is collected and cleaned it becomes renewable natural gas.

"We are thrilled to partner with Larson Dairy Farms and JM Larson Farms to build and operate carbon negative RNG projects Florida and deliver environmental and economic benefits to Okeechobee County,” said Bob Powell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Brightmark. “These projects advance our mission of reimagining waste into new parts of the country while supporting local communities with innovative solutions that produce clean fuels, reduce GHG emissions and provide new sources of income to farmers.”

Anaerobic digestion systems can prevent significant quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere. Research shows that when all climate benefits are considered together, renewable natural gas from dairy manure can reduce greenhouse gas emissions 400% when it is used to replace traditional vehicle fuels through this net carbon-negative process.

These projects will reduce the net greenhouse gas emissions from the manure processed at this facility at a rate of 55,000 metric tons of CO2e per year, which is equivalent to planting 72,000 acres of forest each year. After the methane is extracted from the processed manure, the remaining soil nutrients will be returned to the farmers for use as fertilizer and water for forage crops for their cows. These partnerships will allow the farms to reduce land application of raw manure and improve odor, water quality and nutrient management practices.

"Brightmark has been a good partner in the development of this project. We are glad the technology and economics are coming together to support our environmental and sustainability goals,” said Woody Larson. “Cows are the ultimate recyclers, creating wholesome milk from byproducts of the citrus, ethanol, brewing and textile industries. This technology now also allows us to convert manure to energy and improve the environment.”

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