California-based renewable energy company Brightmark Energy announced plans on Feb. 5 to capture, refine and sell methane gas rising off the decaying manure produced at three dairy farms in Minnehaha County near Sioux Falls. The project could be the first of many renewable natural gas projects built at South Dakota dairy and hog farms and is being driven by rising demand for cleaner, more sustainable energy, experts say.
The Brightmark Energy project will collect manure from nearly 12,000 dairy cows at the Boadwine, Pioneer and Mooody* County dairy farms. The manure will be placed in large, oxygen-free tanks and, essentially, left to rot. One of the byproducts of rotting manure is methane gas, a major component of the natural gas already piped to thousands of South Dakota homes. Brightmark expects to harvest enough of the gas each year to cover the annual average energy needs of more than 2,400 homes, based on average energy consumption as reported by the Energy Information Administration [Nick Lowrey, “California Energy Firm Will Turn S.D. Farm Wastes into Usable Natural Gas,” South Dakota News Watch, 2020.02.12].
*No, really, SD News Watch printed Moody with the extra o.
There’s Governor Noem’s next big thing: “South Dakota: Powering America with Poop!”
Brightmark is working on gas projects in New York, Wisconsin, Washington, and South Carolina. South Dakota communities may also want to partner with Brightmark Energy on disposing of all those cups and straws they won’t be able to ban anymore. Brightmark is building a big plant in Indiana to recycle plastic into diesel fuel, naphtha, and wax. Brightmark is keenly concerned about the environmental impact of plastics:
Only 9% of the plastic manufactured in the United States each year is recycled. The rest ends up in an incinerator, a landfill, or as litter in the natural environment, where it is doomed to sit for thousands of years. Post-use plastic is choking our waterways, littering our communities, and harming our wildlife. We need better mechanisms for managing this waste stream, limiting its impact on the planet, and turning plastic back into useful products [Brightmark Energy, “Plastics Renewal,” retrieved 2020.02.19].
Translation: Senator Monroe, quit throwing your trash in the Missouri!