We all know that methane produced by cows is terrible for the environment – in 2015, it comprised about 16 percent of all greenhouse gases. In fact, it is estimated that over 100 years, methane's global-warming potential is 28 times bigger than that renowned villain, CO2. But what if methane could be used for good? Well, Toyota has a plan. The company wants to build a renewable energy plant in California and run it purely on methane released from cow poop.
The new plant, which is hoped to come online in 2020, will use the methane produced by cow manure to create water, electricity, and hydrogen. The new “Tri-Gen Project” was announced at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, which is currently taking place.
According to USA Today, it will be "the world's first commercial-scale 100 percent renewable power and hydrogen generation plant” – exciting news when our effects on the environment are becoming more and more apparent. It will be located at California’s Port of Long Beach.
The new plant will produce vast amounts of energy, enough to power 2,350 homes and 1,500 hydrogen-powered cars each day. The plant will therefore also have one of the world’s largest hydrogen fueling stations to power cars.
As a car manufacturer, Toyota is aware that things need to change. "Environmentally conscious motorists demand newer, cleaner forms of transportation,” the company wrote on its website. In fact, they're aiming to end production of traditional internal combustion engines by as soon as 2040. They also hope to cut carbon emissions from their vehicles by 90 percent over the next 30 years.
“Tri-Gen is a major step forward for sustainable mobility and a key accomplishment of our 2050 environmental challenge to achieve net zero CO2 emissions from our operations,” added Doug Murtha, vice president for strategic planning at Toyota’s North America Group, to USA Today.
With temperatures rising and severe levels of pollution, finding ways to bring clean energy to the masses is key. It already appears that electric cars will become a huge success, producing around half as much carbon over their lifetime than ordinary diesel cars. Various countries, like France, India, and the UK, will totally ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars in a few decades’ time. It’s pretty clear that renewable energy is coming along.
Let’s hope that if Toyota's new power plant is a success, others will follow, so that clean energy can take over and keep our planet green for the years to come.