From hog to pipeline quality biogas

An innovative power plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, is taking renewable biogas from hog farms in the state and using it to generate electricity.

According to a statement, it is the first time the technology has been applied from in-state farms.

The Optima KV project, in Duplin County, is capturing methane gas from the hog waste of five local farms, and transporting it through more than 42,000 feet of in-ground piping to a central location. There, the gas is cleaned and converted to pipeline-quality natural gas.

That renewable natural gas is then injected into the Piedmont Natural Gas system, which transports it to Duke Energy’s Smith Energy Complex in Richmond County.

“This is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in North Carolina,” said Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, David Fountain, in a statement from the utility.

“This project allows for the capture of emissions from hog operations and converts the renewable natural gas to electricity for customers. We look forward to continuing our work on future projects.”

Optima KV recently completed its interconnection Piedmont Natural Gas. When fully operational, the project is expected to yield about 11,000 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to meet the power needs for 1,000 homes.

“Biogas is such a rich resource for the state, especially for North Carolina's agriculture industry,” said Gus Simmons of Cavanaugh & Associates, a partner of OptimaBio.

“Harvesting unused organics such as swine manure from farms can create a new business opportunity for farmers, provide an in-state source of energy fuel and improve the sustainability of the agriculture and energy sectors. It's a win-win.”

According to the Duke Energy statement, it’s hoped that the company’s larger, more efficient plants will allow more renewable energy to be produced from renewable natural gas.

"Optima KV is just the first of more projects where directed biogas will be used at Duke Energy power plants to create efficient renewable energy. Getting projects to a meaningful scale is important as we advance this innovative technology," added Fountain.


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