Dairy Waste-to-Bioenergy via the Integration of Concentrating Solar Power and a High Temperature Conversion Process

Combined CSP and hydrothermal processing to convert dairy waste into sustainable fuels for renewable electricity.

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)


Monterey Park, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

Redesign of the CSP receiver was completed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), resulting in fabrication of the receiver in 2017. Design and fabrication of the Genifuel hydrothermal processing (HTP) unit was completed with input from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL). Construction of the HTP system was completed and the Hyperlight CSP facility was expanded to a half acre in size using redesigned collectors and receivers. The HTP system was commissioned and testing was completed after integration with the Hyperlight system. This is the first project where CSP and HTP technologies have been integrated. This project was completed in March, 2019. Southern California Gas Company is planning to use HTP system in the future for other projects.

The Issue

Because of the intermittent nature of many renewable energy sources, special attention must be taken when connecting them to the electrical grid. Energy storage technologies have the potential to increase the reliability of California's energy supply, as well as the ability to dispatch renewable energy sources on demand instead of upon production. Yet, traditional forms of energy storage are often prohibitively costly and lack mechanisms for participation in electricity markets.

Project Innovation

The goal of the project is to integrate Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Hydrothermal Processing (HTP) into a single, integrated system; confirm that it can convert dairy manure into renewable natural gas (RNG) and bio-crude; study the economics of integrated CSP-HTP systems sited at dairy farms; and confirm that the RNG produced meets pipeline-transmission and geological-storage quality standards. The project seeks to prove that it is possible to store the energy contained in dairy manure waste in a manner that enables California natural gas plants to produce readily dispatchable, ultra-low-emissions renewable electricity.

Project Benefits

This project will develop and demonstrate a new bioenergy pathway which utilizes hydrothermal processing and concentrating solar power to convert dairy manure into bio-crude and renewable natural gas that will enable dispatchable and low emissions renewable electricity.

Lower Costs


Cost-effective production of pipeline-quality renewable natural gas and bio-crude will offset use of fossil fuels and provide a pathway for low-cost energy storage, reducing peak electricity costs, and lowering costs for ratepayers. The project team estimates a renewable electricity production cost of approximately $69 per MWh ($0.069 per kWh) -- cheaper than comparable renewable resources.

Economic Development

Economic Development

Commercialization of this technology would positively impact several markets including: dairies, fuel refineries, natural gas pipeline operators, and electricity producers. In addition, the project itself employs approximately 9 individuals in San Diego and Imperial County.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

By converting dairy manure into renewable natural gas and bio-crude, greenhouse gas emissions typically associated with manure can be avoided. The project teams estimates that a commercial-scale facility using this technology would result in annual net greenhouse gas emission reductions of approximately 3,440 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Ronald Kent

Advanced Technologies Manager



Energy Solutions International


U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Hyperlight Energy


Genifuel Corporation


Match Partners


Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)


Contact the Team