AgDaily – Nov 4, 2020
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Brightmark is a company that has been around for only four years, but considering how far they’ve come in that short time, you’d think it has been for four decades. Which makes sense given the fact that its founder and CEO Bob Powell has been in the energy sector for over 30 years.

“Sustainability” has been a buzzword in the agriculture industry for years, but today’s modern farms really do make that an everyday reality. By working with companies such as Brightmark, larger scale dairy and even pig farms are able to trap methane and have it recycled into renewable natural gas and energy to power homes, business, cars, trucks, even airplanes! Yes it’s true, your next flight might be powered by the almighty cow!

How does Brightmark do it? Through anaerobic digestion, large-scale manure tanks are turned into big “stomachs” that digest all the organic materials, and the gas is captured and sold back to the grid. What’s even better about this is that these biogas facilities are done at no cost to the farm and offer an additional revenue stream to the farm itself. It’s a win-win!

I find this process so interesting that I had to interview Powell myself to learn more. After college, he worked in numerous sectors of the energy industry but it was a trip to Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1995, where he really had his “aha!” moment.

“I saw kids playing in open sewers, surrounded by garbage. My son, Sean, was 5 at the time, and I thought, ‘What if this was my son?’ It was then that it hit me. People have no idea about waste and environmental issues like this.”

After working in the energy sector for so many years, he began to notice trends that a lot of companies utilized insurance as a “what if something happens” mentality, but Powell wanted to do better and take a more proactive, rather then reactive, approach. He noticed that businesses were starting to have aggressive goals like “20% renewable energy by 2020” as one example.

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