Duke, along with other partners, has been recognized by two state organizations for its commitment to trend-setting sustainability practices.
The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association recently announced Duke, Google, Loyd Ray Farms and Duke Energy as the recipients of the 2012 Award for Business Innovation. The award highlights projects that promote clean energy in the state. At Loyd Ray Farms, Duke and its partners helped establish a waste-to-energy system that converts hog waste into electricity and creates carbon offset credits.
The state chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies has also recognized the project, awarding the Henry A. Stikes Grand Conceptor award to the engineering firm that worked with Duke on the hog farm project.
"It's really gratifying to be recognized by those working in engineering and sustainable energy," said Tatjana Vujic, director of the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative. "It validates the significance of the system, what it's accomplishing and its potential to change how waste is managed in the state. The system represents a crucial step in terms of finding clean technological solutions to renewable energy needs that also deal with climate issues."
By capturing greenhouse gases from hog waste and burning them to run a turbine, the waste-to-energy system prevents the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to nearly 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, which is like taking 900 cars off the road. Energy produced by the system also creates as many as 500 megawatt hours a year, enough energy to power almost 7,000 homes continuously for one day. The system meets strong environmental performance standards that outshine current waste management practices, Vujic said.
The waste-to-energy system has been running since May 2011 at Loyd Ray Farms, a 9,000-head hog finishing operation northwest of Yadkinville, N.C. It is intended to serve as a model for other hog farms seeking to manage waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop on-farm renewable power. When fully operational, the system provides enough electricity to power itself as well as five of nine barns at Loyd Ray Farms.
As part of receiving the American Council of Engineering Companies award, Vujic said the waste-to-energy system will continually be recognized throughout 2013 on the organization's website and other materials. It will also be placed in the running for a national award from the council.
"These awards help raise the profile of this project and the effort to harness energy from home-grown sources, proving their value to the North Carolina community," Vujic said. "We hope it acts as a model to help solve pollution issues associated with swine operations while showing new ways to generate renewable energy and control greenhouse gas emissions."