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North Carolina renewable natural gas project breaks ground

By Anna Simet | December 20, 2016

Colorado-based Carbon Cycle Energy broke ground last week on a $100 million, swine waste-to-renewable natural gas (RNG) project near Warsaw in southeastern North Carolina.

The project was first unveiled in March, with Carbon Cycle Energy being the builder and owner, and Duke Energy being named as the contracted RNG purchaser. Under North Carolina's renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS), investor-owned utilities are required to purchase or generate 12.5 percent renewable energy by 2021. The REPS includes specific provisions for solar energy, swine waste resources and poultry waste resources—for swine waste, the regulation states that by 2018, at least 0.2 percent of total electric power in kilowatt hours sold to retail electric customer in the state must be supplied, or contracted for supply in each year, by swine waste. The requirement scales up from 0.07 percent in 2012, to .014 percent in 2015, reaching 0.2 percent in 2018.

Duke indicated it will use the RNG at four of its power stations, under a 15-year contract. An unnamed company that C2E indicated is a Fortune 500 company will also purchase RNG. It’s expected that the plant will utilize in excess of 750,000 tons of organic waste annually, and at full capacity, produce 6,500 dekatherms of RNG daily, enough fuel to generate 290,000 megawatt hours of power. C2E believes it will be the largest standalone biogas facility in the U.S.

Besides swine manure, C2E will use industrial food processing waste as substrates. Raw biogas will be upgraded on-site, and injected directly into the natural gas pipeline system.

C2E expects the plant, C2E Renewables NC, to be completed in late 2017, and describes it as the first in a pipeline of large-scale anaerobic digestion and biogas treatment plants the company is planning.