Cargill's Second Dairy Farm Digester Captures Methane for Power

An Idaho dairy farm is illustrating how environmental innovation can simultaneously help solve problems as global as climate change and as local as livestock manure.

A Cargill built and operated anaerobic digester on the Bettencourt Dairy B6 Farm is now converting manure from the farm’s 6,000 cows into 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. The electricity is sold to the local power grid.

“We’re proud to be creating a renewable source of electricity,” said Bettencourt Chief Financial Officer Rick Onaindia. “Our digesters are also helping us reduce overall operating costs.”

The anaerobic digester from Cargill’s Environmental Finance group operates by feeding manure into a large, sealed, in-ground, oxygen-free vessel. Bacteria break down the waste creating methane biogas. The gas is then captured and burned in a series of generators that produce electricity that is sent to the grid.

The project builds on the success of a Cargill anaerobic digester operating since 2008 on another 10,000-cow Bettencourt Dairy farm nearby.

“We look to environmental innovation as a way to preserve and protect the environment,” said Jay Ritzen, managing director, Cargill Environmental Finance, “that includes using energy and resources more wisely in our own operations and helping our customers’ shrink their environmental footprints.”

Along with generating enough renewable electricity to power approximately 1,100 U.S. homes per month, the project will also generate carbon credits from reduced methane emissions in the atmosphere. Cargill is currently in the process of selling the first 28,000 tons of emission offsets generated by the initial Bettencourt Dairy digester. At peak capacity that digester is expected to produce 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a month, enough to power approximately 1,400 U.S. homes.

The two Bettencourt Dairy digester projects and a third digester project on a 5,500-cow dairy near Idaho Falls are a part of a broader initiative by Cargill Global Emissions that seeks to enhance direct participation in renewable energy projects to establish and grow its renewable energy based trading business.

Cargill Environmental Finance is a part of Cargill Global Emissions, European Power and Gas Trading, a business unit of Cargill, Inc., an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 159,000 people in 68 countries.

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