The North Carolina Pork Council is seeking legislation to create a pilot program in which participating pork operations within the state will use a new technology to convert hog waste into electricity to meet consumers' energy needs. The goal is to help North Carolina’s pork industry determine whether this technology will be economically feasible in the long term. 

Under terms of the pilot program, North Carolina pork producers could soon be able to use technology developed by Smithfield Foods, Murphy-Brown and others to capture methane gas from their farms’ anaerobic treatment systems and convert it into electricity.

“This pilot program is great news for pork producers, energy consumers and the environment,” says R.C. Hunt, NCPC president and a contract pork producer. North Carolina pork industry leaders have worked tirelessly to make energy generation from hog operations a viable enterprise, he points out. This pilot program will help determine if it will be possible for producers to sell energy at a rate that justifies the capital investment and covers operating expenses for these projects.

 “Our hope is that this method of energy production eventually can be done more and more efficiently with time and experience. From an environmental standpoint, this program makes good sense because we’re providing a renewable energy source and, by capturing the methane gas, we’re lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” he adds.

However, new state legislation will be required before the pilot program can be implemented. “Today we are asking the North Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation that will enable us to go ahead with our program,” Hunt says. “If such legislation is not passed, this exciting opportunity may not become a reality.”

"It’s a logical next step to constructively build on the objective information that we have procured from our research efforts over the past five years. I’m especially pleased that the focus is on renewable energy as that is, in my view, one of the best approaches to address the challenge of economic feasibility associated with improving lagoon sprayfield technology," says Mike Williams, director of North Carolina State University’s Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center.

The “bio-energy generation system” technology developed by Murphy-Brown is the result of years of consultation and investigation by independent and in-house engineers, researchers and equipment suppliers. The technology involves partially covering an anaerobic treatment system’s lagoon and using a variety of approaches to capture methane gas from the system and, through the use of bio-gas power generators, convert it into electricity.

Source: North Carolina Pork Council