Dominion Energy and Smithfield Foods, Inc. have announced they are forming a joint venture called Align Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)that will capture methane emissions from hog farms and convert them into clean renewable energy for residential home heating and power for local businesses. Their first projects will be in North Carolina, Virginia and Utah.
By capturing methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, the use of RNG leads to a significant reduction in methane emissions from the agriculture and energy industries.
RNG is produced from the methane generated from hog or dairy farms, landfills, wastewater treatment plants and food processing facilities. Capturing the methane from hog farms reduces the use of traditionally-sourced natural gas and keeps greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere. It can be stored and delivered to homes and businesses through existing natural gas infrastructure, making it a cost-effective, renewable option.
The new joint venture will leverage Smithfield’s relationships with contract farmers, who raise and care for its hogs, and the decades the company has spent studying and perfecting the commercial viability of ‘manure-to-energy’ projects. Using a technology known as anaerobic digestion, the projects will capture and process methane from large clusters of Smithfield’s company-owned and contract hog farms. Once collected at the farms, the natural gas will then be transported to a central conditioning facility where it will be converted into RNG.
Thomas F. Farrell, II, chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Energy said RNG is considered carbon-negative because it captures significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than are released from its end use in homes and businesses.
Earlier this month, DominionEnergy Virginia announced it is moving forward on clean energy projects, from sources such as solar and wind, to meet its commitment of 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy in operation or under development by 2022.
The company has taken several steps in the three months since announcing the goal, including:
- Surveying non-residential customers about their renewable energy needs
- Seeking bids for up to 500 megawatts of solar and onshore wind
- Requesting approval for 240 megawatts of solar generation in Virginia
- Receiving approval for a Community Solar Pilot for residential, commercial, and industrial customers
- Continuing plans to build two six-megawatt wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach
- Engaging with a broad array of stakeholders on future solar development
- Planning a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to 50 megawatts of smaller scale solar projects in 2019