American energy firm looks to power up on pig poo

© Michaela Rehle
US power company Duke Energy plans to buy methane gas produced from pig manure to power about nine hundred homes.

The company will buy the methane from pig farms in North Carolina. The collected gas will be treated and sent to two of Duke’s power stations through a pipeline system.

Duke Energy says it aims to generate 0.2 percent of its power from pig waste by 2021.

“That sounds like a very small fraction, but we’re talking about a relatively new technology here,” said company spokesperson Randy Wheeless, adding that the technology and the cost would come down and such projects would become more of a mainstream source of power.

The new facility will be constructed and operated by Duke’s partner Optima KV, and begin operations by next summer.

Duke’s new pig waste-to-energy project will employ digester technology installed at pig farms. Digesters hold waste in heated airtight tanks, which creates the perfect growing conditions for bacteria which consume the manure and release methane gas.

The new facility will be constructed and operated by Duke’s partner Optima KV, and begin operations by next summer.

Duke’s new pig waste-to-energy project will employ digester technology installed at pig farms. Digesters hold waste in heated airtight tanks, which creates the perfect growing conditions for bacteria which consume the manure and release methane gas.

A North Carolina law requires electric utilities in the country's second-largest pork producing state to use manure as a fuel source.

Earlier this year, Duke Energy announced another deal to buy gas from a group of pig farms in eastern North Carolina and turn it into energy.

The combined projects are expected to power over 10,000 homes.

Duke Energy provides power to 7.4 million customers in the southern US. Most of the energy produced by the company comes from coal, nuclear and natural gas. It has recently started investing in solar energy.