Smithfield Foods enters into new renewable gas partnership

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Smithfield Foods enters into new renewable gas partnership

Related tags Us Smithfield foods Livestock Pork Processing and packaging Innovation Processing equipment & plant design

US processor Smithfield Foods has created a new renewable natural gas (RNG) partnership with providers Duke Energy and OptimaBio.

The partnership will produce RNG from the wastewater treatment system at the Smithfield Foods pork processing facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina to power more than 2,000 local homes and businesses.

The $14m project is the latest from Smithfield Renewables, Smithfield’s platform to unify and accelerate its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25% by 2025. Through partnership with Duke Energy, roughly 140,000 dekatherms of RNG per year will be transported to natural gas plants and used to generate electricity for consumers.

To date, this is one of Smithfield’s largest renewable energy projects involving wastewater, and its first in North Carolina.

Smithfield also has ‘wastewater-to-energy’ projects at its Milan, Missouri.; Grayson, Kentucky.; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota facilities, which are used to power their modified steam boilers.

“This project brings to life all three of our company’s guiding principles – Responsibility, Operational Excellence, and Innovation,”​ said Smithfield Foods president and chief executive officer Kenneth M. Sullivan. “For the first time, we are creating renewable energy from the biogas generated in our wastewater treatment system and using it to power local communities. With the help of our partners, we are producing additional value for our company and our neighbors—a concept that is ingrained in our culture.”

The company’s Tar Heel project uses a gas upgrading and injection system operated by bioenergy project developer OptimaBio, which leverages the facility’s three million gallon-per-day wastewater treatment system to collect and clean biogas through an existing on-site digester and convert it into RNG.

“We are proud to partner with Smithfield on this project, which has far-reaching and positive impacts for the environment, the local community, and industries that are key to the state’s economy,” ​said Mark Maloney, CEO and founder at OptimaBio. “We’re helping diversify and strengthen North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio through this endeavor.”

Once converted, the RNG is injected into the Piedmont Natural Gas system, and then transported to Duke Energy to produce electricity.

In addition to creating renewable energy at its facilities, Smithfield is implementing projects on its farms that transform manure into RNG. These projects capture methane from manure, and clean and convert it into RNG, which is then injected into local natural gas distribution systems for homes and businesses. In the next decade, Smithfield is implementing ‘manure-to-energy’ projects in at least six states including Arizona, California, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Global Meat News will be hosting a webinar on sustainability within the meat industry on 3 March 2020. For commercial opportunities associated with this webinar, contact Aline Henderson on ​nyvar.uraqrefba@jeoz.pbz​​.

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