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Cow manure transforms into clean gas in South Dakota

Cow manure transforms into clean gas in South Dakota

By Scout Nelson

In a move towards cleaner energy, South Dakota has introduced its latest initiative: turning cow manure into renewable natural gas (RNG). This innovative energy source, dubbed "Re-MOO-able Energy," was celebrated in Brookings with a ceremonial valve turning.

This event marked the beginning of RNG production, which captures methane—a potent greenhouse gas—preventing its release into the atmosphere.

The initiative took place at NorthWestern Energy's new facility north of Brookings, where the gas will be refined and distributed. This RNG will contribute about 700,000 dekatherms annually to the local grid, supplying energy to over 10,000 residents without additional costs to consumers.

This project aligns with NorthWestern Energy's Net Zero by 2050 Vision and is seen as a crucial economic tool for South Dakota. Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson highlighted its triple benefit—for agriculture, consumers, and the environment. Methane, once a byproduct of dairy operations, is now a valuable commodity that enhances the natural gas supply while reducing environmental impact.

Cow manure is processed at nearby farms using aerobic digester tanks. Methane is extracted, cleaned, and then transported to the energy facility, bypassing traditional pipeline construction. This method not only leverages existing dairy farms but also ensures a steady, local energy supply, crucial during periods when interstate natural gas lines face limitations.

NorthWestern Energy and its partners plan to introduce five more RNG projects in the state this year. The launch was followed by a community event at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, celebrating the contribution of local dairy farms to this sustainable initiative.

Guests enjoyed local products like Babybel cheese and SDSU Ice Cream, linking everyday consumption with sustainable practices. This initiative represents a significant step in South Dakota's journey towards sustainable energy solutions.

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Categories: South Dakota, Energy, Livestock, Dairy Cattle

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