Waste & Recycling


Brightmark partners with three dairy farms

The project is expected to be fully operational by 2022.

SAN FRANCISCO – Brightmark, a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, has partnered with three Western Michigan farms on the latest in a series of biogas projects the company has launched over the past two years.

The Michigan farmers have each signed supply agreements with Brightmark indicating their intent to provide the company with dairy manure from their herds that will serve as feedstock for new anaerobic digesters to be built on Beaver Creek Farm. The digesters will capture, extract, and clean the methane in the manure, then convert it into renewable natural gas (RNG) and inject it into a nearby gas pipeline.

“As a participating farm, we are excited to have Brightmark as a partner in anaerobic digestion of the manure from our cows,” said Greg Stahl, owner of Den Dulk Dairy Farm.

“This investment will help local farms like ours continue to be environmentally friendly to our community and help us to exceed environmental regulations and responsibilities. We have always taken pride in being excellent stewards of our land, community, and industry.”

Once the Castor project is fully operational in early 2022, it is anticipated to produce about 328,500 MMBtu of RNG each year, making this Brightmark’s largest RNG project to date.

The company has partnered on biogas projects with 20 dairy farms in six states over the past two years. Once all of these projects are operational, Brightmark’s RNG projects will generate enough renewable natural gas each year to drive 5,100 18-wheeler trucks from San Francisco to New York City.

Brightmark CEO Bob Powell said, “This renewable natural gas project will be a win-win for the community, the environment, and the farmers, who have the potential to significantly reduce their nutrient management costs. We are actively working with Ottawa County to obtain all the permits for this project and to make sure it we’re maximizing benefits to the local community and our farmer partners.”

Anaerobic digestion systems can prevent significant quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere. Research shows that when all climate benefits are considered together, RNG from dairy manure can reduce greenhouse gas emissions 400 percent when it is used to replace traditional vehicle fuels.

This project will reduce the net greenhouse gas emissions from the manure processed at this facility at a rate of 98,783 tonnes per year, which is equivalent to planting 129,000 acres of forest each year.

After the methane is extracted from the processed manure, the remaining materials will be transported to the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System where it will be processed alongside the county’s other wastewater. This partnership will allow the farms to reduce land application of manure and improve odor and nutrient management practices.

“We’re glad that we can have a role in making this project work. It’s amazing to consider all the pieces and players that have to come together to make it happen. I’ve enjoyed working with representatives from Brightmark and the dairies. I have no doubt of their sincerity and dedication to make this dream a reality,” said Dave Johnson, wastewater director of Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.

Brightmark has designed the Castor RNG project to have expansion capability, so future phases are planned.