RICHMOND, Va. and SMITHFIELD, Va. – A new partnership between Smithfield Foods Inc. and Dominion Energy will capture methane emissions from hog farms and convert them into renewable energy. The joint venture, Align Renewable Natural Gas, is announcing its first projects in North Carolina, Virginia and Utah.
“At Smithfield, we recognize true, enduring sustainability initiatives require collaboration with other proven innovators who share a similar vision,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods. “Dominion Energy is one such proven innovator and we are proud to partner with them in our longstanding pursuit of renewable energy. Align RNG is part of our nationwide expansion of Smithfield Renewables, innovative projects designed to help meet our goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2025.”
Renewable natural gas (RNG) is produced from methane that is generated from hog or dairy farms, landfills, wastewater treatment plants and food processing facilities. Capturing the methane emissions and converting it to renewable energy can help provide energy for residential home heating or power for local businesses.
“Our companies recognize the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the future of our planet. RNG is an innovative and proven way to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture industry by converting it into clean renewable energy,” said Thomas F. Farrell, II, chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Energy. “RNG is considered carbon-negative because it captures significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than are released from its end use in homes and businesses.”
The partnership between Smithfield and Dominion has allowed Smithfield to leverage its existing relationships with the contract farmers who raise their hogs. The anaerobic digestion technology will help capture and process the methane from Smithfield’s contracted hog farms. Once collected, the natural gas will be converted into RNG at a central conditioning facility.
“This partnership with two leading Virginia-based companies shows the power of Virginia’s largest industry – agriculture – to promote cleaner energy, sustainable family farms, and a brighter future for rural communities here in the Commonwealth and nationwide,” said Bettina K. Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
The companies are jointly investing at least $250 million in the project over the next decade. The first phase of the project will involve converting 90 percent of Smithfield’s finishing spaces in North Carolina and Utah. Projects will also be implemented in Virginia and there’s potential for wider-scale application across the country in the future.
“With a longstanding commitment to sustainability, and through considerable research and exploration of ways to transform manure into energy for many years, we are well-positioned to make unprecedented and revolutionary progress that will positively impact the future of the agriculture and energy industries,” Sullivan said.
“With this transformational partnership, we are combining the environmental benefits of renewables with the reliability of natural gas to meet the around-the-clock clean energy needs of consumers and businesses,” Farrell said.