Google seeks to meet its carbon neutrality goal the same way Tina Turner powered the Thunderdrome in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome. Pig excrement.
Google recently invested in a system that turns methane from pig waste into energy.
The poo-to-power system, on a hog facility 25 miles west of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, collects methane gas from decomposing hog waste and burns it to power a turbine and produce electricity. Since the system is preventing the release of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, it also produces carbon offset credits.
The $1.2 million prototype was built at Loyd Ray Farms, a 9,000-head hog finishing operation northwest of Yadkinville, N.C. Duke University and Duke Energy built it. It produces enough electricity to power 35 homes for a year. When fully operational, it could prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to nearly 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. That's like taking 900 cars off the road.
"It is rewarding to see three years of hard work come into operation and exciting to have Google as a new partner in this project," said Owen Smith, managing director of Duke Energy's regulated renewables business.
"As North Carolina continues to explore new ways to generate renewable energy from hog waste, this site serves as a showcase for what others can do to capture the energy from hog waste and turn it into usable electricity for customers," said Smith.
Google will assume a share of the university's costs for five years. In return they will receive a portion of the carbon offset credits.
The North Carolina facility may be just the beginning of pig poo power in North Carolina. The system was designed to serve as a model for other hog farms. It uses a minimum of specialized parts and is adaptable for new hog farms or updating older ones.