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Turning Manure into Renewable Energy

By Smithfield Foods |April 20, 2012

Over the last few years, we've seen a heightened interest in the benefits of renewable fuel use. Several states have legislation encouraging electricity providers to generate power from renewable sources, including hog manure. New technology is helping to make hog manure more suitable for conversion to energy.
Murphy-Brown, our livestock production subsidiary, and its contract growers' farms have a ready supply of feedstock—manure—for renewable energy projects, and we believe we can make a strong contribution to this valuable field. Our new barn scraper technologyproduces hog manure highly suitable for conversion to energy due to its reduced water content, making our farms attractive partners for energy developers.
Smithfield has been exploring manure-to-energy projects for a number of years, with the aim of supporting growth in the renewable energy field while creating valuable energy from our byproducts. We have signed supply agreements with energy developers to begin work on several projects to turn hog manure into energy on company-owned farms.
Our larger farms are well suited for integration of a complete manure-to-energy system utilizing methane gas produced from the facility's hog manure. Murphy-Brown is working on larger projects with great potential. Over the past 18 months, Murphy-Brown has sought opportunities to supply fuel to a range of larger projects that could generate 5 to 10 megawatts of electricity throughout North Carolina. Many of these projects are still awaiting financing.
We have also encouraged our contract growers to partner with specialists in manure-to-energy technologies, so they can derive the same benefits. One of our contract farms in Yadkinville, North Carolina, recently partnered with Duke Energy, Duke University, and Google to build a $1.2 million prototype power plant. The energy from this project will run the farm's waste processing system and much of the 154-acre farm. Duke Energy will use the renewable energy certificates to help meet state requirements for electricity generation from hog waste. Duke University earns credits to offset its carbon emissions and will sell Google, owner of a nearby data center, a portion of its carbon offsets.
While we are making progress, these manure-to-energy projects face a number of challenges, such as securing long-term financing and demonstrating untested technology. We plan to be involved with these types of projects in the United States and internationally over the long term, and we are investing in expert staff to identify and optimize new energy sources. We are confident in our ability to continue adding value through our manure management systems. The demand for renewable energy is growing and we are committed to developing long-term, sustainable partnerships in this area. We continue to explore business relationships where we can work with companies that have the capital and technical expertise to make these projects a success.

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