(David Waterman, affiliate WVOC)
Call it “pig power.”
In a first for South Carolina, state-owned utility Santee Cooper will use electricity generated at a hog farm as part of the power it supplies to customers statewide.
Dennis Shanklin is CEO of Environmental Fabrics Incorporated, in Gaston, which is building the machine to make it happen. He explained,
We’re taking the waste from a swine farm and building a digester, diverting the waste into the digester for about three weeks, and the naturally occurring bacteria decompose the organic materials in the waste and one of the byproducts of this is methane gas, which then can be used as fuel to generate electricity.
The methane will come from Burrows Hall Farm in Williamsburg County, a swine farm owned by Duffy Connolly, who says he first got interested in this 17 years ago.
With more emphasis these days on renewable energy, he says “pig power” is more attractive now to companies like Santee Cooper, which also generates electricity from landfills, forest waste, solar and wind.
“It’s a renewable energy – another tool on my farm to help me manage my nutrients and operation. And it’s reducing the greenhouse gas methane and converting it to a more useful material like electricity,” says Connolly.
Clemson University, the State Energy Office and state Department of Agriculture also pitched in to come up with this environmentally friendly way to reduce pollution and odors from the hog farm.
Marc Tye, Santee Cooper’s vice president of Conservation and Renewable Energy says
The methane gas that will be captured is actually 21 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. So we capture the methane, burn it –essentially consume it in an engine – and we’re getting rid of a pollutant that is worse than CO2 and then we’re also producing electricity with it.
Tye says the method will generate enough power for approximately 90 average South Carolina homes — another step in the effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels to produce our electricity needs.