Manure to methane: US energy giant to tap farms into natural gas pipeline network

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Duke Energy, one of the largest energy holding companies in the US, has entered into a partnership with SustainRNG, a developer of renewable natural gas (RNG) projects in the agriculture sector, to harness RNG on dairy farms.

SustainRNG was formed to commercialise the first ever ‘parallel flow digester’ for manure management, an advanced methane generation technology under license from Trane Technologies. It will engineer, finance, construct and operate RNG sites in collaboration with dairy farmers, with an initial focus on those based in the south east of the country.

By capturing and processing methane from farms into RNG, Duke Energy and SustainRNG plan to offer a locally generated renewable energy source to end users nationwide via injection into the existing natural gas pipeline network. RNG is methane that has been captured from the breakdown of organic waste and processed to remove contaminants and meet natural gas pipeline quality standards.

The RNG projects will also provide an additional revenue stream for farmers while simultaneously reducing their waste management liability.

Parallel Flow Digesters

The advanced technology employed in SustainRNG’s projects uses specialised anaerobic digestion units called ‘parallel flow digesters’, which stratify the flow of particles by size, facilitating the breakdown of the organic materials in manure. SustainRNG is initially targeting use of the technology to deploy digesters on dairy farms of 3,000 to 6,000 head that use water wash-down manure management, which is currently an underserved niche in the dairy digester market. The company expects to complete its first project in 2021.

Duke Energy is committed to supporting sustainable energy solutions, and our partnership with SustainRNG will bring more renewable natural gas into the market, which benefits both the environment and customers,’ said Phillip Grigsby, Duke Energy’s senior VP of ventures and business development. “In addition, these projects will create jobs, both in the construction and ongoing operation of the RNG facilities.”

As part of the deal, Duke Energy has invested in a minority share of SustainRNG and retains the option to invest in future operating projects.

We are excited to be partnering with dairy farmers, who will be co-owners of the projects and have a stake in their success,” concluded SustainRNG’s CEO, Michael Shore. “Equally important, our projects will help farmers to be more sustainable locally and leverage the power of the agriculture sector to mitigate climate change.”

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