KERMAN, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Kerman-based farm “Bar 20” has won an award for “Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability” for its efforts to reduce emissions – including capturing methane from their 7,000 cows and converting it into renewable electricity.

Every year the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards recognizes dairy farms, businesses, and collaborative partnerships that are committed to healthy products, healthy communities, and a healthy planet.

The methane captured at “Bar 20” is converted using what’s called a dairy digestor – described as basically a big pond.

“Ours holds 25,000,000 gallons of dairy waste, which is manure and liquids. (…) Dual lining protects it from going into the groundwater and then it’s covered so that the gasses cannot escape into the atmosphere,” explained farm operator Steve Shehadey.

Their other green investments include changing their bulbs to LEDs in their barns, reducing the demand for electricity by 75%, and two solar array installations. But their biggest addition to reducing their carbon footprint is their dairy digestor.

This first-of-its-kind, next-generation, climate-smart digestor can capture more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The electricity generated from the methane is created without combustion and its smog and asthma-producing pollution. Also, it has the ability to do something that solar energy can’t.

“They can produce power 24 hours a day. Solar is good when the sun is out but when it’s cloudy or rainy you don’t get energy. These types of projects will produce four times the power that solar will because it runs twenty-four hours a day”, said Shehadey.

In this process of creating this renewable energy, nothing is wasted.

“You take that waste which is kind of a liability and we turn it into power. Then we use that liquid after it goes through the digestor to fertilize the crops. We turn a negative which is dairy waste into power and organic fertilizer. Everything gets recycled”, continued Shehadey.

Bar 20 produces enough energy that it participates in the “Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program”. Partnering with BMW North America, they send the combustion-free electricity via the utility grid to power electric vehicles. The result in carbon emission reduction is equivalent to providing clean power to over 17,000 electric cars per year.

“If you’re going to be in the dairy business we thought let’s invest in the future. We live here, this is where we’ve raised our families. Let’s do something that will help us survive these tough times”, said Shehadey.