i3 California

The BMW Group has engaged in a partnership with a California dairy and creamery to use methane-gas emissions from cow manure to produce electricity, which will help to bolster power grids and in turn charge EVs. Straus Organic Dairy Farm, located in Marshall, California, a small community in Marin County along Tomales Bay, is the the site of a biodigester that captures methane from bovine waste, which would otherwise enter the atmosphere and became a greenhouse gas. The biodigester transforms methane into electricity, thus allowing for a double-reduction in emissions, first by preventing additional methane from entering the atmosphere and then by converting it into power, which can take the place of grid capacity generated by conventional fossil fuels.

Connected directly to the public power grid, the Straus family sees a model that can be exported to other California dairies across the state, creating what could become a significant source of renewable energy, while also furthering sustainable farming.

BMW of North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt calls the collaboration the first of its kind in the auto industry, and further explains the endeavor as another example of BMW’s forward thinking when it comes to sustainable practices. Over the coming years, BMW anticipates that energy generated from partnerships like this will yield enough electricity to power all of the BMW and MINI EVs in the state of California.

It’s not the first agreement of its kind. BMW currently operates the ChargeForward pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area, which allows participating owners to charge their EVs using as much solar power as possible, as opposed to traditional energy sources. All of these efforts are aimed at proving the long-term viability of EVs, which face continued criticism for merely moving the emissions source from the tailpipe itself to the factories and power generating stations which manufacture their componentry and allow them to operate.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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