Smithfield Foods progresses gas project

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Smithfield Foods has made advancements in its renewable natural gas project
Smithfield Foods has made advancements in its renewable natural gas project

Related tags: Pork

US processor Smithfield Foods, along with Dominion Energy, has broken ground on what is being described as North Carolina’s largest renewable natural gas (RNG) project.

Run through their joint venture, Align RNG, the project will capture methane emissions from hog farms and convert them into RNG to power homes and businesses.

Located in Duplin and Sampson counties, this project will generate enough energy to power more than 3,500 homes annually upon completion.

“Breaking ground on this project with Dominion Energy is an exciting first step in bringing Align RNG to life,” ​said Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs for Smithfield Foods. “This project implements proven ‘manure-to-energy’ technology across a number of farms to produce reliable renewable energy for our community and contributes to our company’s ambitious goal to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25% by 2025.”

This is the first ‘manure-to-energy’ project to begin construction under Align RNG since the joint venture was announced in late 2018.

Additional projects are planned for North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia, and are projected to produce enough energy to power 14,000 homes and businesses in total. The emissions reduction associated with these projects equate to planting 7.8 million new trees or taking 100,000 passenger vehicles off the road.

As part of the Align RNG initiative, technology will be installed in 19 area farms to transform manure into RNG that will be processed and injected into existing natural gas distribution systems to serve local homes and businesses.

The project has been modelled after the Optima KV project, which captures biogas on five Smithfield contract farms in North Carolina, and similar projects on Smithfield farms in Northern Missouri​ and Utah.

“What we are starting is truly transformational​,” said Gary Courts, Dominion Energy’s general manager of new gas business development. “We’re using the power of innovation to make our energy cleaner and our farms more sustainable than ever before.

“With renewable natural gas, everyone wins. It’s good for the environment and our planet. It’s a huge win for the farmers. And it’s around-the-clock renewable energy for consumers.”

The 300,000 MMBTU of renewable energy this project is estimated to produce will help North Carolina’s plan to reduce GHG emissions over the next decade and will help expand the state’s energy portfolio. The sale of RNG generated by these projects will also provide family farmers with an additional source of revenue.

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