Chicken and Cow Champions – Chevron, bp dive into poultry poop and dairy doodoo for RNG

August 29, 2021 |

A double doozy came in the news with Chevron expanding their JV partnership with Brightmark on their dairy biomethane renewable natural gas work together, and then bp and Clean Bay Renewables’ new 15-year agreement where bp will buy RNG processed from poultry litter and sell it as fuel for the U.S. transportation sector.

In today’s Digest, all about the poultry poop and dairy doodoo plans, what CleanBay Renewables, bp, Chevron, Brightmark, had to say about it, ExxonMobil’s take, what this all means, and more.

Poultry Poop Power

Let’s start with the bp, CleanBay Renewables RNG news since that’s a brand-new agreement and with more than 14 million tons of chicken litter produced each year in the United States alone, the feedstock is aplenty.

bp and CleanBay Renewables announced a 15-year agreement where bp will purchase renewable natural gas processed from poultry litter – a mixture of manure, feathers and bedding – and sell it as fuel for the US transportation sector.

CleanBay manages this process by mixing poultry litter with water in an anaerobic digester. One of the end products is biogas, which includes methane. The biogas can be processed into RNG and used to fuel vehicles.

CleanBay’s approach builds on the sustainability efforts of the agriculture community by re-purposing poultry litter into RNG and a controlled-release fertilizer designed for optimized nutrient management. Each of their plants can recycle more than 150 thousand tons of chicken litter annually.

Through this agreement, bp’s trading and shipping team will sell the fuel to its customers, initially in California. There is strong demand for RNG fuel in the state due to incentives from its Low Carbon Fuel Standard. RNG-fueled vehicles are estimated to result in up to 95 percent lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than those fueled by gasoline or diesel on a lifecycle basis, according to a US Department of Energy study.

The Poultry Plans

CleanBay is an environmental technology company focused on the production of sustainable RNG and engineered organic fertilizers. This agreement with bp directly supports the financing for its first active bio-conversion facility, planned in eastern Maryland.

CleanBay is actively exploring sites for future facilities in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and California. Its goal is to establish a portfolio of RNG and power facilities that reduce local emissions and provide farmers with an alternative use for their poultry litter and a fertilizer to increase their food production. Each of the 30 proposed CleanBay facilities is expected to generate enough sustainable energy to power 9,200 cars per year by recycling more than 150,000 tons of poultry litter annually.

CleanBay has incorporated measures to further reduce its carbon footprint, including co-located solar power fields to meet the onsite power needs and the production of alternative products like green hydrogen.

Reactions from the stakeholders

Michael Thomas, vice president biogas origination, bp said, “Working with innovative companies like CleanBay will be key for bp to reach our net zero ambition. As one of the largest suppliers of RNG to the US transportation sector, this agreement will help us continue delivering competitive, reliable energy solutions.”

Thomas Spangler, executive chairman, CleanBay Renewables said, “By collaborating with bp, we continue taking steps to positively impact our environment. Not only will our process improve the air, soil and water quality around our agricultural facilities, but our RNG is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way to help reduce GHG emissions.”

Donal Buckley, CEO, CleanBay Renewables said, “RNG is a necessary energy transition approach in the near-term, but green hydrogen and the use of RNG to power electric vehicle charging stations will be the backbone of a fast transition to a net zero future.”

Dairy Doodoo

Ok, let’s take a look at the Chevron, Brightmark news about their second expansion of their previously announced joint venture, Brightmark RNG Holdings LLC, to own projects across the United States to produce and market dairy biomethane, a renewable natural gas.

Brightmark RNG Holdings LLC’s subsidiaries currently own RNG projects in New York, Michigan, Florida, South Dakota and Arizona. Additional equity investments by each company in the joint venture will fund construction of infrastructure and commercial operation of 10 dairy biomethane projects, including new sites in Iowa and Wisconsin and additional sites in Michigan and South Dakota. Chevron will purchase RNG produced from these projects and market the volumes for use in vehicles operating on compressed natural gas.

Reactions from the stakeholders

“This latest expansion with Brightmark advances our strategy of higher returns and lower carbon,” said Andy Walz, president of Chevron’s Americas Fuels & Lubricants. “Opportunities like these not only reaffirm our commitment to investing in ways that are good for the environment, our consumers and our stockholders, they also bolster our previously announced objective to increase RNG volumes tenfold by 2025 over 2020 volumes.”

“Brightmark’s expanded partnership with Chevron is another positive step forward in the decarbonization of the farming industry,” said Bob Powell, founder and chief executive officer of Brightmark. “Our carbon-negative projects are successfully reimagining waste and delivering significant environmental benefits while improving economics for our dairy farm partners. We look forward to executing on these new RNG projects with Chevron and partnering with dairy farmers to expand our RNG footprint across the country.”

What about ExxonMobil?

Interestingly, ExxonMobil’s news from a few days ago caught our eye too – but it wasn’t RNG. In fact, we couldn’t really find anything RNG related from ExxonMobil’s website, but it seems they are focusing on renewable diesel and hydrogen instead.

ExxonMobil just announced its majority-owned affiliate, Imperial Oil Ltd., is moving forward with plans to produce renewable diesel at a new complex at its Strathcona refinery in Edmonton, Canada.  When construction is complete, the refinery is expected to produce approximately 20,000 barrels per day of renewable diesel, which could reduce emissions in the Canadian transportation sector by about 3 million metric tons per year. The complex will utilize locally grown plant-based feedstock and hydrogen with carbon capture and storage (CCS) as part of the manufacturing process.

The renewable diesel production process will utilize blue hydrogen, which is produced from natural gas with carbon capture and storage. Approximately 500,000 metric tons of CO2 are expected to be captured each year utilizing CCS. The blue hydrogen and biofeedstock will be combined with a proprietary catalyst to produce premium low-carbon diesel fuel.

A final investment decision will be based on several factors, including government support and approvals, market conditions and economic competitiveness. Imperial will lead the project, which is expected to create about 600 direct construction jobs. Renewable diesel production is anticipated to start in 2024.

The Strathcona renewable diesel project is part of ExxonMobil’s plans to provide more than 40,000 barrels per day of low-emissions fuels by 2025. In the United States, the company has agreed to purchase up to 5 million barrels of renewable diesel annually from Global Clean Energy to supply markets in California.

Reactions from the stakeholders

“ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions has made the broad commercialization of carbon capture and storage our initial focus, and we are seeing increased momentum for projects that include hydrogen and biofuels – areas that we are uniquely suited to address and advance in combination with CCS,” said Joe Blommaert, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “We strongly support an economy-wide price on carbon because it is the most efficient approach to changing behaviors and accelerating investments in low-emission technology. However, Canada’s Clean Fuel Regulation could be a model for other countries considering a sectoral approach. Technology-neutral, lifecycle carbon-intensity based fuels policies like the one proposed in Canada can quickly bring projects like Strathcona to scale and rapidly reduce emissions at a low cost to society.”

“Canada’s proposed low-carbon fuel policies incentivize the development of lower-emission fuels that can make meaningful contributions to the hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the economy, including transportation,” said Ian Carr, president of ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants Company. “The Strathcona project is an example of how well-designed policies allow us to leverage our existing global facilities for capital efficiency, utilize our proprietary catalyst technology, and bring our decades of processing experience to develop low-emission fuels.”

Bottom Line

No matter how you look at it, big oil companies are teaming up with biobased companies like Brightmark and CleanBay to support more sustainable fuels. Sure, we’d like to see more action and more money from the big guys, but something is better than nothing. Tackling both the huge animal waste issue that the U.S. has from all those chickens and cows, while getting some RNG and renewable fuel out of it is a move in the right direction. We hope to see many more projects like this in the future being backed up by those that have the means and money to do so, like the bp’s, Chevron’s, and ExxonMobil’s of the world.

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