Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has entered into a partnership with GreenGas USA to receive RNG.
Early next year, South Carolina-based RNG developer GreenGas will deliver RNG derived from vegetable waste that is currently decomposing in lagoons and emitting methane emissions directly into the atmosphere.
Working at an existing wastewater treatment facility at a commercial cannery in South Carolina, GreenGas will install equipment to capture the methane from vegetable waste lagoons, process the gas to meet heat content and chemical make-up standards of pipeline natural gas, and inject it into existing interstate pipelines for eventual use in the district energy system that heats East, West and Central campuses in Durham.
The GreenGas partnership is the latest part of a multi-year effort by Duke to meet the university’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2024. The university seeks to reduce the carbon footprint from all aspects of campus life, including energy use in buildings, campus utilities, and university transportation. It will also seek to replace the use of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
Duke University’s executive vice-president, Daniel Ennis, said moving the university to carbon neutrality has been a ‘true university-wide initiative’.
“With this partnership, we are taking a smart but real financial and operational risk to advance a core university priority for carbon neutrality,” said Ennis.
“But we also hope to be a leader in advancing innovation in sustainability practices, and to supporting others who are developing new ideas and technologies in the field.”
The RNG project takes advantage of a North Carolina state policy that allows gas sector customers to contract directly with developers and suppliers on innovative renewable energy projects, and use existing pipelines for energy transfer.
GreenGas has collaborated with McCall Farms, a family-owned business established in the 1950s that produces Southern-style canned vegetables. McCall sources nearly 700 million pounds of produce annually from farmers in the region, of which around 105 million pounds come from North Carolina farmers.
Duke will buy a portion of the project’s output and begin receiving 95,000 million BTUs of fuel annually, displacing around 6% of the natural gas used for district heating of the university’s main Durham campus.
Fuel displacement and the capture and destruction of methane from the McCall wastewater treatment site will completely neutralise the climate impact of the university’s remaining natural gas use.
The project is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 16% by 2024.