NC's largest fully operational swine waste-to-energy plant opened

In North Carolina, US, the largest renewable energy facility using swine waste as feedstock has been officially opened.

The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at the Storms Hog Power (SHP) site at the Storms Hog Farm near Bladenboro. The plant has been designed to produce 600kW when operating at full capacity.

The 600kW plant has been in near constant operation since it came online in October last year, and has sustained peak or near peak output for the past 90 days.

The concept for the project evolved from a grant for four swine farm renewable energy pilot projects administered by the NC Department of Energy, applied for in May 2010 by Sam Ravenel, co-founder of Withers & Ravenel consulting engineers, and Garth Boyd, senior partner of the Prasino Group.

Boyd formed AgPower Partners (APP) with energy and real estate developer, Jeffrey Smerko, to develop the Storms project. APP enlisted the services of DVO for its patented two-stage Mixed Plug Flow anaerobic digester, Martin Machinery/GenTec for its biogas engine/generator turn-key services, Barnhill Contracting for construction management and expertise, and CohnReznick for accounting and tax advisory services.

APP was able to facilitate construction and term debt financing through Cape Fear Farm Credit for the project owner and operator, William Storms, who is also the farm owner and operator.

'Anaerobic digestion presents many benefits far beyond power generation,' says Steve Dvorak, owner and founder of DVO. 'For progressive hog farmers...it's also about being a good steward of the land. Our digesters reduce greenhouse gas emissions from stored and land-distributed farm wastes by roughly 90%. Pathogens in farm waste, including e-coli and salmonella, are reduced so much that they are almost undetectable, and our new nutrient recovery technologies allow for the practical removal of additional phosphorus and ammonia nitrogen.'

Jonathan Gross, partner at CohnReznick adds: 'The North Carolina Senate Bill 3, mandating that utilities have swine generated electricity as a small part of their total portfolio, enabled farmers to try something that would have been untenable without the incentive. The team that developed Storms Hog Power has overcome bureaucratic and modelling challenges to make the project bankable. The end result is a model that makes sense, that works – and that can be repeated.'

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