Manure-to-energy installations at Smithfield’s MO sites complete

Monarch Bioenergy, a joint venture (JV) between Smithfield Foods and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE), has installed manure-to-energy technology on nearly all of Smithfield’s Northern Missouri hog finishing farms.

The new technology, completed ahead of the JV’s 10-year anniversary, captures methane emissions and converts them into carbon-negative RNG to power homes, vehicles and businesses.

Construction of the approximately $150 million (€127 million) project officially started in 2014, three years after RAE and Smithfield first decided to embark on the JV. The proprietary processes that emerged from the project create carbon-negative RNG at a rate of around 800,000 dekatherms annually.

In addition to generating renewable energy, the partnership has planted hundreds of acres of prairie grass, providing ecological services and wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies across the state. The companies are also exploring harvesting prairie plants to create biomass for RNG production.

“We are delighted to reach this exciting milestone, which is a significant step toward fulfilling our commitment to implement this transformative, cutting-edge technology on the vast majority of our finishing farms in multiple states,” said Kraig Westerbeek, vice-president of Smithfield Renewables for Smithfield Foods.

“Our Monarch Bioenergy manure-to-energy projects are making a significant environmental impact and remove 25 times more emissions from the atmosphere than are emitted during the clean energy’s end-use. Because of this, there are key projects in our Smithfield Renewables portfolio of innovative renewable energy and carbon reduction efforts across our operations.”

Collectively and independently, the companies have embarked on additional manure-to-energy projects across the country in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

The Monarch Bioenergy JV supports the companies’ respective sustainability goals, including RAE’s goal to restore 30 million acres of land to native prairie plants strategically located around waterways, streams, rivers, and highly erodible lands, and Smithfield’s goals to become carbon negative in US company-owned operations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% across its entire US value chain by 2030.

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