Home to 8.5 million hogs, North Carolina is ranked second in the country for largest pig population — evident to Sara Peach from an aerial view.
“It’s clear from the air that it is very highly concentrated; you just look out the window of the airplane and there’s lagoons in every direction," said Peach, who is the associate director of Reese News Lab in the School of Media and Journalism.
These huge pink lagoons are where hog waste traditionally goes to sit and later be sprayed on fields, which is bad for people's health and the environment, said Carolyn Fryberger, program coordinator for N.C. Growth.
An alternative destination for hog waste are capture facilities where it will be converted into energy through methane capture. Duke Energy plans to implement this procedure in partnership with Carbon Cycle Energy — which will build and own a capture facility in densely hog populated eastern North Carolina.
Randy Wheeless, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, said that North Carolina is one of two states whose renewable energy portfolio includes a carve out for energy converted from swine waste.
He said that these standards were a driving factor in the project.
“Right now, if you’re talking how’s the easiest way to do energy, it would not be swine waste to energy," Wheeless said.
While the cost is expensive for the company relative to other forms of energy generation, customers will not see a rise in their bills thanks to a cost cap in the REP, he said.
Wheeless said that the energy from pig waste conversion would be carbon neutral.