Google just announced that it has been carbon neutral since 2007, and the internet giant also recently unveiled plans to invest in pig poop as a form of renewable energy. Working in collaboration with Duke University and Duke Energy, the company will share funding for a poo-powered methane power plant in Yadkinville for five years. Using poop from the 9,000 hogs, the facility can produce enough electric power to run 35 homes for an entire year.
The state of the art facility, located outside of Winston-Salem, burns off the methane gas that is emitted from rotting pig poop. The burned gas is then used to power a turbine, which creates electricity. The model plant is a $1.2 million prototype, built to showcase North Carolina’s quest to promote renewable energy sources.
Aside from providing renewable energy, the Loyd Ray Farms plant also greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The plant operates by burning methane – which is a powerful greenhouse gas that is is naturally released by pig poop as it decomposes. The plant utilizes the methane, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.
So how does it work? Large quantities of animal waste are mixed with lots of grass in a tower. Bacteria then break it all down, producing methane, which is siphoned off, cleaned and filtered.This biogas fuels a large engine to produce renewable electricity. The process also has additional environmental side benefits, reducing animal waste problems associated with manure disposal on farms. The odor is reduced, and weed seeds and pathogens are killed during the digestion process
The gas is then used to power an engine which in turn powers a generator.
With Google’s help, the plant will operate at full force, in effect preventing the equivalent of 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere each year.
Google’s investment in the poo power plant will give the company additional carbon offset credits, make use of excrement, prevent greenhouse emissions equivalent to 900 cars, and create renewable energy. Sounds like a win-win-win to us.
As a side note:
With revenue from pig products getting smaller every year, some farmers from rural England have decided to make some extra money by turning poo into profit.
James Hart, who runs a pig farm, came up with a simple solution of using the huge amount of pig faeces, cow dung and chicken droppings on his farm to generate electricity.
It may look unremarkable from the outside, but inside Glebe Farm there is a state-of-the-art biogas station. It's one of only a few in the UK, which has been slower than many of its European neighbours in developing renewable energies such as wind turbines and solar panels.