An aerobic digester

An aerobic digester will be used to process cow manure to capture methane gas from cow manure.

Project will convert 230,000 tons of manure per year into renewable natural gas, reduce methane emissions from Okeechobee dairy farms

OKEECHOBEE — Brightmark Energy, a waste and energy development company, announced today that it has partnered with four dairy farms in Okeechobee to build and operate three anaerobic digesters that will convert a total of 230,000 tons of dairy manure per year from 9,900 cows into renewable natural gas. Brightmark will develop, own, and operate the project.

The project includes the construction of new anaerobic digesters at four Larson family dairy farms in Okeechobee County, including two farms 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.

Larson family farm in Okeechobee

An aerobic digester to process cow manure and reduce emissions will operate at this Larson family farm in Okeechobee.

“We’re proud to partner with the Larson family, who have a long history as dairy industry leaders in Florida,” said Brightmark Energy CEO Bob Powell. “Projects like these help to provide additional revenue streams for farmers, reduce local air and water impacts and enhance the sustainability efforts of farmers, so this project is a win for the farmers and the local community.”

This is the latest in a series of biogas projects launched by San Francisco-based Brightmark Energy in the past two years. The company also has active projects in Washington, Wisconsin, and New York. When the Larson project becomes operational at the end of 2021, Brightmark’s biogas projects will generate enough renewable natural gas to drive a bus 16,281,400 miles each year. The company is developing similar biogas projects nationwide.

“We’re happy to welcome Brightmark Energy to Okeechobee County for such an innovative and important project partnering with our local dairy community,” said Senator Ben Albritton, Chair of the Florida Senate Agriculture Committee.

Anaerobic digestion of dairy cow manure has been shown to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The process prevents methane, a greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere. This project will reduce the net greenhouse gas emissions from processed dairy manure at a rate of 57,400 metric tons per year, which is equivalent to planting 75,000 acres of forest each year.

“Anaerobic digestion is a potential new revenue source for dairy farms, so we’re thrilled to see this new partnership between Brightmark and the Larson family here in Florida,” said Adam Basford, director of State Legislative Affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau.

“Brightmark Energy has been a good partner in the development of this project,’’ said participating farmer Woody Larson. "We are glad the technology and economics are coming together to support our environmental and sustainability goals.” Larson added, “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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