North Carolina's pig farms are becoming the focus of big tech companies interested in off-setting their carbon footprint by investing in manure-to-methane renewable energy.
It first started with Google’s partnership with Duke University, seeking to demonstrate manure-to-methane renewable biogas as a viable technology, with the aid of a local pig farm. Apple, with the construction of its new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, is interested in qualifying for the state’s renewable energy credits.
North Carolina is examining its hog waste as a potential uptapped resource as a means of reducing its dependence on coal-fired power plants, as well as the risks that come with an overly successful hog industry. In 1995 after a hog waste lagoon broke open, inundating nearby fields and creating a a massive fish kill in a nearby river.
In addition to Duke University’s project, the University of North Carolina has been researching manure-to-energy as a way to eliminate odors and waste disposal issues at hog farms. The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has also been investigating the potential for hog waste to produce biodiesel and other oils, including a tarlike asphalt substitute that could be used for road surfaces.