The power of pig poop is being discovered in North Carolina. Duke Energy is participating in an innovative effort with OptimaBio to produce pipeline-quality biogas from hog farms as a renewable energy.
OptimaBio, headquartered in Raleigh, NC, is a swine waste-to-energy project developer and the leader in RNG development for North Carolina. The partnership brings together experts in bioenergy, agriculture, project finance and environmental stewardship to invest in rural communities for the greater good. Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the United States. Its electric utilities and infrastructure business unit serves approximately 7.5 million customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.
According to a news release from Duke Energy, this is the first application of the technology from in-state farms.
"This is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in North Carolina," said David Fountain, Duke Energy's North Carolina president, in the release. "This project allows for the capture of emissions from hog operations and converts the renewable natural gas to electricity for customers. We look forward to continuing our work on future projects."
The Optima KV project in Duplin County captures methane gas from the hog waste of five local farms, according to the report. More than 42,000 feet of in-ground piping is used to move the methane to a central location where the gas is cleaned and converted to pipeline-quality natural gas.
The project injects the renewable natural gas into the Piedmont Natural Gas system which transports it to Duke Energy's Smith Energy Complex in Richmond Countywhere it is used to produce electricity, the news release explained. Optima KV completed its interconnection to Piedmont Natural Gas last week.
"Biogas is such a rich resource for the state, especially for North Carolina's agriculture industry," said Gus Simmons of Cavanaugh & Associates, a partner of OptimaBio, in the release. "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. It's a win-win."
Announced in 2016, the project is expected to yield about 11,000 megawatt-hours of electricity – enough to power about 1,000 homes, the release said. In addition, the project “will help Duke Energy satisfy state swine waste-to-energy mandates under the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard law in North Carolina,” the report said. “Under this law, Duke Energy must generate 0.20 percent of its retail sales from swine waste by 2023.”