North Carolina is making a bad bet on biogas and biomass projects that contaminate the environment, raise environmental justice concerns, and “crowd out real clean energy solutions,” Inside Climate News reports in a recent exposé.
The issue dates back to a 2007 renewables and energy efficiency portfolio standard that recognizes poultry and swine waste as an option alongside renewable power sources like solar, wind, and geothermal, the U.S. climate site reports.
But now, the North Carolina Utilities Commission says companies trying to produce electricity from animal waste have been “missing their energy generation targets since 2014 because of persisting technological and operational problems,” Inside Climate writes. “As a result, the commission has been revising its yearly estimates of energy from biogas and biomass-powered energy sources, saying that the technology is still in the early stages of development and that the projects have experienced operational challenges.”
That’s a big issue in a state with 250,000 industrial hog operations raising nine million animals per year, plus another 5,700 farms raising more than 500 million chickens and turkeys. “Environmental and citizen groups argue that using the animal waste for biogas produces more ammonia emissions and increases the risk of water and air pollution, with adverse human health impacts,” and they’re treating the delay in the waste-to-energy projects as a good prompt to withdraw state incentives for what they term “dirty energy”.