SMITHFIELD, VA. – Smithfield Foods announced that manure-to-energy technology was installed on nearly all of the company’s Northern Missouri hog finishing farms. The project is a joint venture of Smithfield and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) called Monarch Bioenergy.
The technology captures methane emissions and converts them into carbon-negative renewable natural gas (RNG) to power homes, vehicles and businesses, the company said. Construction of the project officially began in 2014 and cost approximately $150 million. Smithfield said the proprietary processes developed for the project create carbon-negative RNG at a rate of approximately 800,000 dekatherms annually.
“We are delighted to reach this exciting milestone, which is a significant step toward fulfilling our commitment to implement this transformative, cutting-edge technology on the vast majority of our finishing farms in multiple states,” said Kraig Westerbeek, vice president of Smithfield Renewables for Smithfield Foods. “Our Monarch Bioenergy manure-to-energy projects are making a significant environmental impact and remove 25 times more emissions from the atmosphere than are emitted during the clean energy’s end use. Because of this, they are key projects in our Smithfield Renewables portfolio of innovative renewable energy and carbon reduction efforts across our operations.”
The partnership also has planted hundreds of acres of prairie grass which provides ecological services and wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies across Missouri. The companies are also exploring harvesting prairie plants to create biomass for RNG production. Collectively and independently, Smithfield and RAE have embarked on additional manure-to-energy projects across the country in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
“With perseverance and dedication to our vision we navigated the pathways for swine manure with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the EPA to receive the lowest CI (carbon intensity) scores in the swine industry,” said Rudi Roeslein, RAE chairman and chief executive officer. “We are leading the way to improve the industry’s environmental footprint and diversify its income stream. This is a blueprint on how to turn challenges into opportunities.”