But he, too, says he would "like to see some changes" at the swine operations. They want farmers to adopt new technologies for handling hog waste that get rid of lagoons altogether. "What changed, fundamentally, is the market for renewable natural gas, [and] the market for carbon, have allowed us to develop a business model, an economic model, that works for everybody involved," Westerbeek says. Whether it's food or tech companies, we’re trying to go across industry to find ways to reduce carbon and provide cleaner energy solutions to all of our customers. "As a swine producer, we’re really good at what we do," Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables, told me. " We also have similar cultures; we care a lot about contributing to our communities and we have a huge focus on safety and sustainability," added Ryan Childress, Dominion’s director of business development. Environmental Protection Specialist. Ryan W. Childress is responsible for sourcing, analysis and execution of new business strategies for Dominion Energy’s Gas Infrastructure Group. "We've got audacious goals,” said Ryan Childress, Dominion Energy. Cloudflare Ray ID: 5ec4deeae9bf0843 Smithfield has sweeping environmental goals that range from animal stewardship to modest energy reduction goals (5 percent by 2020, from a 2014 baseline). They're planning to spend $500 million building the infrastructure to capture methane from hundreds of hog farms, mostly in North Carolina. For people who worry about climate change, it's a clear win. Some nearby residents would rather see them removed entirely. This basic idea — turning manure into energy — is not new. Last year, tech giants with data centers in Virginia, including Microsoft, LinkedIn and Apple, demanded the utility deploy renewable energy to meet any increase in power, rather than natural gas-fired power plants proposed by Dominion. Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. The market has attracted resources from across North America — including Missouri and Canada — and California’s agriculture department has funded more than 60 (PDF) of dairy biogas projects, with plans to expand. rather than natural gas-fired power plants proposed by Dominion. The animals live in rows of buildings nearby, eating and excreting. Performance & security by Cloudflare, Please complete the security check to access. • The investment expands operations that capture the methane from manure lagoons of Smithfield’s pig farmers, which is then processed by Dominion and can be used interchangeably with fracked natural gas in pipelines. He is responsible for sourcing, analysis and execution of new business strategies for Dominion Energy’s Gas Infrastructure Group. Smithfield has been looking for ways to use manure beyond fertilizer for years. "I think they can do better," says Devon Hall, who founded the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), which is based in Warsaw, N.C. "There's at least eight to 10 swine operations within a 2-mile radius of where I live and work," Hall says. We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020, Florence Engulfs Hog Farms And Chicken Houses, Thrashing North Carolina Agriculture. The manure lagoons at the center of this project are the focus of heated controversy in North Carolina for reasons unrelated to their greenhouse emissions. We intend to see that through and make a big difference for the environment, for farmers, and for customers who are looking for low-carbon energy." Send request.
RNG also transforms biomethane, a waste product that impacted emissions goals, into a potential revenue stream for farmers, who get a share of the methane sales. "When we start to get into this energy business, we look at this and we think, ‘We’re not energy experts,’ and a company like Dominion is. First, technology has gotten better, according to Westerbeek. If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. "This amounts to a glorified offset scheme and a way for Dominion to keep investing in new fracked gas infrastructure in lieu of electrification, which is the best way to decarbonize buildings," said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a utility watchdog organization. Dominion has cut methane emissions from leaks by 25 percent in the last decade and has pledged to reduce them by another 65 percent by 2030, Childress said. Director, Business Development. Interested in face-to-face meeting? This week, Dominion announced a commitment to reach net-zero emissions in power generation and natural gas by 2050 (a step up from its previous commitment of an 80 percent reduction by 2050). Tim Olson. This is the standard form of treatment for hog waste in this part of the country. Ryan Childress (left), Dominion Energy's director of gas business development, and Kraig Westerbeek, an executive at pork producer Smithfield Foods, stand on a … Childress compares the clusters to a hub-and-spoke model, with a gas-upgrading facility in the center connected to each farm via plastic pipelines. "Whether it's food or tech companies, we’re trying to go across industry to find ways to reduce carbon and provide cleaner energy solutions to all of our customers," said Childress. Many dairy farms are doing similar things, often using biogas on-site to power a generator. There is a confluence of factors adding fuel to the uptick. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pig producer, and Dominion Energy, one of the country’s largest investor-owned utilities, want you to know they’re happy together. When it comes to climate, Smithfield Foods has a tough row to hoe. Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. Next stop: Climate action? RNG has gained attention as a potential resource to decarbonize the transportation sector, as its carbon intensity is technically negative. In a separate deal with Duke Energy, Smithfield is also selling RNG into North Carolina to help that state meet its renewable portfolio standard. Get articles like this delivered to your inbox. Twice in recent years, manure lagoons have flooded during hurricanes. • "While that may be true elsewhere, we simply do not see any evidence of slowing customer or investment growth in the states in which we operate gas utilities.". The gas then gets pumped out to processing stations that remove water vapor and carbon dioxide. That's the key to this business: People or companies who are trying to reduce their carbon emissions will pay extra for it — perhaps twice as much as regular natural gas. In the lagoon, bacteria go to work on the manure, breaking it down. Second, the RNG market is maturing, meaning farmers and gas companies could make real money.
", According to Dominion’s calculations, mixing just 4 percent of RNG with 96 percent fracked natural gas will offset the carbon footprint completely, as RNG "captures 25 times more greenhouse gas than it releases." As a food company, the corporation says it lacked the expertise to move into the RNG market. "You're standing in the middle of about 12,000 head" of hogs, says Kraig Westerbeek, an executive at Smithfield Foods, the country's biggest pork producer. hide caption. Childress described this as a "partnership dynamic," not companies pushing the utility to transition to clean energy faster. It just makes a lot of sense, in our opinion, to partner with folks that have the type of expertise that we don’t have as a company.". Others, however, may not see much benefit. "We also have similar cultures; we care a lot about contributing to our communities and we have a huge focus on safety and sustainability," added Ryan Childress, Dominion’s director of business development. And no, it has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. On the same day that Dominion announced its new climate goal, the company’s CEO, Tom Farrell, said during an earnings call that the company is increasing its stake in the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline and doesn’t plan on curbing natural gas. Smithfield is appealing those verdicts. Community activists say that capturing methane, by itself, is not the answer.


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