Companies want to green grid with garbage gas

Missouri rarely produces any natural gas, unless you count hogs.

Methane released from manure ponds across boar fields across the state is rapidly pumped into pipelines and transported to power plants and homes, where it is lit with heat, hot rain, and shale gas for cooking. .

Smithfield Foods Inc., the nation’s largest pig producer, hopes to sell gas from all Missouri farm operations in the summer. Most of its farms already feed methane into the gas grid. Once the cover is spread over the rest of the 4-acre lagoon and then connected to equipment that removes carbon dioxide and impurities from the smoke, Smithfield hopes to supply enough gas to about 10,000 homes in Missouri Will.

“We’ve been looking at how to make energy from compost for a few decades,” said Craig Westerbeck, who leads Smithfield’s renewable energy business. “We have some failures, but these projects show that you can actually accomplish it.”

Cragg Westerbeck surveys a Smithfield farm in northern Missouri.

The rush of companies associated with the shortage of greenhouse gases is making methane from the waste of organic waste a big business. So-called renewable natural gas can be produced in commercial quantities from pigs and dairy farms, landfills, wastewater treatment facilities and poor food and slaughterhouses.

Burning it to produce electricity or heat does not produce less carbon dioxide than shale gas. But methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The separation of methane in the atmosphere and from the energy grid is considered as emission reduction and rewarded with valuable low carbon and renewable fuel credits, which can be traded with gas or separately.

Gas from landfills, farms, sewage plants, food waste, and other anaerobic digestion systems constitutes less than 1% of America’s natural-gas supply. There is so much shale gas in the market that many oil drillers burn their one-time valuable byproduct – what they call “garbage gas” – by spending money instead of wellhead to market it. On Monday, natural gas futures fell 8.5% to close at $ 2.305 per million British thermal units, a palatial winter price that for many producers is less than a break-down.

Gas typically costs many times more than actual waste. It cannot compete with shale gas without subsidies, like fuel credit and its beneficial effect on corporate emissions arithmetic.

Analysts and utilities believe that renewable natural gas can reach 10% to 30% of the total natural-gas supply by 2040. The lower end of that range would still require policy makers, the deep pockets of the energy industry, and companies to help burn their environmental credits. For funds that do trillions of dollars with environmental and social responsibility.

A pool of manure is being covered to catch biogas at Smithfield Farms in northern Missouri.

Pipeline companies and utilities are the key to a biogas boom. Connecting fertilizer ponds to pipelines is very expensive for most farmers, but connecting remote sources of gas to the market is the day-to-day business of energy companies. Unlike the operators of the electrical grid, pipeline owners do not have the power to avoid ESG investors or to doubt the value of the pipeline in a green-energy economy.

“Renewable natural gas is something green to talk about,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst TJ Shults. “The advantage for them is that it fits within their existing infrastructure. They do not need to make changes. “

The RBC estimates that commercial quantities of gas can be produced in more than 2,500 US landfills, the most prolific source, and about 8,000 farms that receive the most valuable credit because they are the most powerful pollutants.

The American Biogas Council struggled to access utilities three years ago, said Patrick Surface, the advocacy group’s executive director. Before so many companies had promised carbon neutrality and ESG funds, this kind of dominated.

“Now gas utilities are coming to us asking how they can get their hands on renewable natural gas and help build more systems to build their gas source and beat their pipelines,” Mr. Sarfas said.

Dominion Energy Inc.

There is a plan to invest $ 2 billion in biogas projects by 2050, a major utility for carbon neutrality. It is a $ 200 million agreement to establish them on dairy farms and is pursuing another $ 500 million price with Smithfield, separate from the pork manufacturer’s Missouri operations.

Pipelines carry raw biogas to a processing center at a Smithfield farm.

The first project of the partnership collects gas from 26 swine farms in the Escalante Desert of Utah. The gas flows into a pipeline between Wyoming’s gas fields and Bakersfield, California. Pigs are expected to heat around 3,000 homes.

Dominion and Smithfield, which aim to eliminate more emissions by 2030, produce more from their U.S. assets, with other projects being planned in Arizona, California, Virginia and North Carolina, where millions of hags are made each year . “South-East North Carolina has the potential to be one of the leading renewable natural-gas production areas,” said Ryan Childress, Dominion’s director of gas business development.

Sempara energyOf

SoCalGas, the country’s largest gas utility, is working with dairy farmers and says that 20% of its gas will come from waste by 2030. California regulators recently stated that the Los Angeles utility may charge additional fees from customers who want biogas.

Duke energy Corp.

It is said that there is a five-year plan to be a leader in renewable natural gas. Purlin Corp.

Over $ 200 million is committed. Williams Cos. Chief executive Alan Armstrong told investors that the firm, which carries about one-third of all US gas in its pipelines, is positioned to swap fossil fuels to reduce emissions.

King of Prussia, Pa’s UGI Corp.

Sold its stake in coal-fired power plants across the state. It bought a business that trades in California’s renewable-gas credit markets and has invested in the Idaho dairy-gas project. UGI executive David Lindenmuth told an online biogas conference this month that the gas-distribution firm is leading its European businesses.

“Utilities over there have found out how to stay relevant,” he said. “Maintain that invested infrastructure, but also talk about how they can participate in reducing greenhouse gases and they cannot be separated by artists.”

Hog Barnes sits next to a tarp-covered lagoon at Smithfield Farm. The waste of pigs flows into the lagoon, where it rot and produces biogas.

Write Ryan Dezember at [email protected]

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