Avolta, a renewable energy company focused on originating, developing, owning and operating renewable natural gas projects, and its regional development partner, Atlas Global Holdings LLC, broke ground at the Butterfield and Milky Way dairies in Buckeye on June 29.
The groundbreaking officially kicks off the first of two RNG Projects at the Butterfield and Milky Way dairies.
“Avolta is pleased to expand into Arizona with the new RNG upgrading facility at Butterfield Dairy. The Butterfield RNG Facility will positively impact the environment while simultaneously providing benefits to the de Jong family farming operation,” said Gov Siegel, co-founder of Avolta, in a press release.
Butterfield and Milky Way dairies care for more than 50,000 cows. The two projects will generate over 675,000 MMBtu of RNG annually, which will ultimately be distributed as a renewable transportation fuel.
To better understand the effect of the renewable energy that will be created, Siegel broke it down during the event.
“For those of you who aren’t natural gas people, MMBtu is sort of the way the gas people measure gas. Just like you fill up gallons at the pump in your car, or you buy a gallon of milk, gas is measured in MMBtu. So what does that really mean? That’s the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars a year off the road,” he said.
The projects will allow gas to be delivered into a Southwest Gas pipeline at the end of the fourth quarter 2021 and first quarter 2022.
Both facilities will be operated and maintained by Nacelle Solutions, a gas technology and service company with design and operational expertise in both the oil, gas and biogas industries.
“This will be the first in a series of projects in Arizona that uphold our commitment to supporting the dairy industry and providing economic opportunities to local communities all while reducing the impact on the environment,” Siegel said.
Dairy-based biogas systems use anaerobic digestion to convert manure into biogas. The dairy manure streams are diverted and stored in digestors to allow the bacteria to “digest” the manure. As the manure is digested, methane is created. The methane gas is then processed to pipeline quality gas before being injected into the nearest gas pipeline.
In addition to providing a renewable, sustainable energy source, the RNG facility will create local jobs; provide several benefits to the farming operation; and provide a renewable, sustainable energy source.
Amy Washburn, with Southwest Gas, one of the partners on the project helping to invest and construct an interconnect that will help bring the RNG produced at the dairy to market, said the facility is a testament to the growth of Buckeye and its commitment to helping the environment.
“This location today is just another example of the growth of the Valley, and Southwest Gas is excited to be part of that and support that growth as our service territory grows and we have more opportunities to provide safe and reliable service. We’re excited to eventually have renewable natural gas in our service territory to be able to offer our customers,” Washburn said.
Biogas is being produced in all 50 states, and the industry is expected to continue to grow. For farmers, the combined anaerobic digestors and RNG upgrading facilities provide optimized waste management solutions to the dairy operations, help create long-term financial stability through gas sales, and provide an organic cow bedding supply.
As for the dairy, Tommy de Jong Sr., the family patriarch, said the project will be beneficial for Butterfield Dairy and the environment.
“Since our family began farming in 1620, we have continuously improved our operations and processes to remain competitive and be a good steward of the land. Most recently we designed Butterfield Dairy to be carbon neutral through managing our water to support crops and capture carbon dioxide,” he said. “This RNG project with Atlas and Avolta is the next phase in this tradition of continuous improvement with many benefits for our farming operation and the environment.”
Siegel made it clear that the impact of converting waste to energy is going to benefit both the environment and the community.
“Why do we do this? This really has three big impacts. It has an impact on farms, it has an impact on the community and it has an impact on the environment,” Siegel said. “This is a lot of energy that would otherwise be in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.”