Companies Seek to Green the Grid With Trash Gas

Missouri barely produces natural gas if you don’t count the pigs.

Methane gas from manure ponds of government pig farms is increasingly being supplied via pipelines to power plants and houses, where it is burned together with shale gas for heating, showering and cooking.

Smithfield Foods Inc., the country’s largest pork producer, plans to sell gas from all of its farms in Missouri by the summer. Most of its activities already supply the gas grid with methane. Once the blankets have been extended across the remaining four-acre lagoons and connected to a plant that removes carbon dioxide and impurities from the exhaust, Smithfield hopes to supply enough gas to supply about 10,000 homes in Missouri.

We’ve been studying how to get energy from manure for about 20 years, he says.

Craig Westerbeek,

who runs Smithfield’s renewable energy company. We’ve had some setbacks, but these projects show that you really can do it.

Craig Westerbeck investigating a Smithfield farm in northern Missouri.

The rush of companies to reduce greenhouse gases makes the use of methane seeping into the organic waste mountain a big business. So-called renewable natural gas can be produced on an industrial scale from pig farms, dairy farms, landfills, sewage treatment plants, but also from spoilt cattle feed and slaughterhouse sludge.

When burned to produce electricity or heat, it produces as much carbon dioxide as shale gas. But methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The removal of methane from the atmosphere and energy is seen as reducing emissions and is rewarded with valuable credits for low carbon and renewable fuels that can be traded with the gas or separately.

Gas from landfills, farms, sewage treatment plants, food waste and other anaerobic digestion systems accounts for less than 1% of the total natural gas supply in the United States. The market is so flooded with shale gas that many drills simply burn their once valuable by-product – waste gas – at source instead of spending the money to market it. On Thursday, natural gas futures closed at $2.52 per million BTU, a wretched winter price that fell below break-even for many producers.

Gas from real waste is usually much more expensive. It cannot compete with shale gas without subsidies such as fuel credits and their positive effect on companies’ emission calculations.

Analysts and utilities estimate that sustainable natural gas could account for 10-30% of total natural gas supply by 2040. The bottom end of this range will still need the help of politicians, deep pockets of the energy industry and companies seeking to restore their environmental credentials for funds that manage trillions of dollars in environmental and social responsibility.

At Smithfield Farm on ¼ in the north of Missouri, manure tanks are covered for biogas production.

Pipeline companies and utilities are the key to the biogas boom. Connecting slurry basins to pipelines is too costly for most farmers, but connecting remote gas sources to the market is a common task for energy companies. Unlike electricity grid operators, pipeline owners do not have the ability to use wind and solar power to attract investors to SOS or to deflect scepticism about the value of pipelines in a green economy.

Renewable natural gas is something green they can talk about, said an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

T.J. Schultz.

The advantage for them is that it integrates into their existing infrastructure. You don’t have to change anything.

RBC estimates that commercial gas could be extracted from more than 2,500 US landfills, which are the most productive sources, and about 8,000 farms, which provide the most valuable credits because they are the biggest polluters.

The U.S. Biogas Council struggled three years ago to reach the utilities, he said.

Patrick Serfas,

Executive Director of the Human Rights Unit. This was before many companies committed to CO2 neutrality and ESG funds took over.

Today, gas companies are contacting us to ask how they can obtain renewable natural gas and how they can help us build more systems to make their wells and pipelines more environmentally friendly, says Serfas.

Dominion Energy Inc,

a major utility company that aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 plans to invest $2 billion in biogas projects. There is a $200 million agreement to put them on dairy farms and another $500 million is being requested by Smithfield, a Missouri-based pork producer, separately from the company.

The pipelines deliver the raw biogas to the Smithfield farm’s processing centre.

The first cooperation project concerns the collection of gas in the Escalante Desert in Utah from 26 pig farms. The gas enters the pipeline between the gas fields of Wyoming and Bakersfield, California. Pigs are expected to heat about 3,000 houses.

Dominion and Smithfield, which aim to eliminate more emissions than their U.S. facilities by 2030, have other projects planned or underway in Arizona, California, Virginia and North Carolina, where millions of pigs are fattened each year. Southeastern North Carolina has the potential to become a major renewable natural gas area, he said.

Ryan Childress,

Director of Gas Business Development in Dominion.

Sempra Energy

SoCalGas, the largest gas company in the country, works with dairy farmers and says 20 percent of the gas will come from waste in 2030. California’s regulatory authorities recently decided that the Los Angeles utility may charge additional costs to customers who want to use biogas.

Duke Energy Corp.

says it has a five-year plan to become a leader in sustainable natural gas.

Chevron Corp.

for $200 million.



Alan Armstrong

told investors that the company, which transports nearly a third of all American gas through its pipelines, has the ability to trade fossil fuels to reduce emissions.

The King of Prussia, the Pope.

UGI Corp.

sold its interest in a state-owned coal-fired power plant. It bought a company trading in the Californian renewable gas credit market and invested in a gas project in Idaho. Director-General of the IIG

David Lindenmuth

At a biogas web conference this month, she said that the gas company is keeping pace with its European activities.

Public services have learned to stay relevant, he said. Continue to invest in infrastructure, but also discuss how it can be a partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cannot be dismantled by environmentalists.

The typepigs are sitting next to a tarpaulin-covered lagoon at the Smithfield farm. Pig waste ends up in the lagoon where it is broken down and produces biogas.

Email Ryan December at [email protected].

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

You May Also Like