Methane gas derived from hog farms in North Carolina is to be used to create enough energy to serve 1,000 homes.
The technological breakthrough will enable a power plant, owned by Duke Energy, to use the renewable natural gas emissions – called directed biogas.
The project, centred in Duplin County, will see methane gas captured from hog waste at five farms within 42,000 feet of piping. The gas is relocated to be cleaned and converted to pipeline-quality natural gas.
The renewable natural gas will be added to the Piedmont Natural Gas System and from there into Duke Energy’s Smith Energy Complex in Richmond County where it is used to produce electricity.
The electricity from the hog farms – around 11,000 megawatt-hours – will be used to power around 1,000 homes.
“Harvesting unused organics such as swine manure from farms can create a new business opportunity for farmers, provide an in-state source of energy fuel and improve the sustainability of the agriculture and energy sectors,”
David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, said the project would be the first of many where directed biogas will be utilised at Duke Energy power plants.
Describing it as a “breakthrough for renewable energy”, he added: “Getting projects to a meaningful scale is important as we advance this innovative technology.”
It will also enable Duke Energy to fulfil state swine waste-to-energy mandates under the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard law.
Gus Simmons, of Cavanaugh & Associates, one of the project partners, declared the news as a ‘win-win’ for the local agricultural industry.
“Harvesting unused organics such as swine manure from farms can create a new business opportunity for farmers, provide an in-state source of energy fuel and improve the sustainability of the agriculture and energy sectors,” he said.
Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the US, with its electric and gas utilities serving more than 9 million customers.