Duke's New Source For Natural Gas: Hog Waste

Mar 21, 2016

Duke Energy has signed a deal to buy natural gas recycled from swine and poultry waste generated at a new plant eastern North Carolina. The contract helps Duke meet state renewable energy rules and could help solve the problem of what to do with the state's growing amount of animal waste. 

North Carolina is the nation’s second largest hog-producing state and most production is in eastern North Carolina. That’s where a Colorado company named Carbon Cycle Energy plans to build a new plant to produce what’s called “bio-gas.”  

The plant will capture methane from hog and poultry waste, purify it, then deliver it through existing pipelines to four of Duke’s gas-fired power plants near Salisbury, Wilmington, Goldsboro and Eden, along the Dan River.

Under the 15-year-contract, Duke will get enough methane to produce about 125,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, which would power about 10,000 homes for a year. Spokesman Randy Wheeless says the company eventually will generate 0.2 percent of its consumer electricity this way.

"So that’s still a very small portion of our overall electricity production, but it goes a long way to help alleviate the waste issue in North Carolina and gives us a way to take that and do something productive, which is to generate electricity.

Last week, state regulators approved a similar deal, which calls for Duke to buy methane from plants in Oklahoma and Missouri.  Gas from those plants should be available to Duke next year, Wheeless said. 

The deals help Duke comply with a 2007 state law that requires power producers to expand their use of alternative energy sources.

That law included what Wheeless calls a "carve-out" for methane derived from animal waste.   Technology for converting waste to usable gas has improved in recent years, making deals like these more cost-effective. Duke says it's already buying electricity generated from other facilities in the state.  

Duke says emissions generated from burning the waste-generated methane would be no more than if the waste decomposed naturally. 

Carbon Cycle Energy is still scouting for locations in the eastern part of the state and would need state and local approvals. Duke says an announcement could come within a month.

RELATED LINKS

March 21, 2016, Duke Energy announcement, "Pork power gets new meaning with Duke Energy deal in N.C."

Carbon Cycle Energy website, http://www.c2-energy.com/

N.C. Utilities Commission approval of Midwest deal