Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) have formed a joint venture called Monarch Bioenergy to produce renewable natural gas across Smithfield’s hog farms in Missouri. This partnership converts manure collected from Smithfield farms into RNG, while simultaneously delivering ecological services and developing wildlife habitat. Once complete, all Smithfield company-owned finishing farms in Missouri will have the infrastructure to produce RNG, resulting in approximately 1.3 million dekatherms of RNG annually.
Courtesy of Roselein Alternative Energy
“This joint venture represents our continued commitment to doing business in a way that is good for our planet and its people,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods.
Monarch Bioenergy builds upon the successful first phase of Smithfield and RAE’s “manure-to-energy” project across nine Smithfield farms in northern Missouri, which is the largest project of its kind. This joint venture will install and utilize infrastructure on Smithfield farms in Missouri to capture methane emissions from hog farms and convert them into pipeline-quality natural gas, which will be distributed to RNG markets across the country.
The biogas created by Monarch Bioenergy is transported through a gas gathering network and purified in a centrally located gas cleaning system designed and installed by RAE. This project produces biogas that has received the lowest carbon intensity score ever recorded. Biogas with low carbon intensity, such as that created by Monarch Bioenergy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and achieves air quality benefits.
Monarch Bioenergy will also sustainably harvest native prairie plants and cover crops that have been restored on highly-erodible lands. The biomass will be digested to produce additional RNG in Missouri. This project leverages harvested prairie plants to create biomass for RNG production while also providing wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies.
This joint venture helps both Smithfield and RAE meet their companywide sustainability goals. Monarch Bioenergy is supporting RAE’s goal to restore 30 million acres of land to native prairie plants strategically located around waterways, streams, rivers and highly erodible lands.
This project is implementing technologies to allow smaller-scale operations to implement “manure-to-energy” projects, supplemented with cover crop and native prairie biomass, to reap economic and environmental benefits. The standardized gas purification systems will be scalable, able to accommodate small to medium-sized finishing farms, and allow for incremental increases as farms grow or harvest more biomass to supplement manure.
Monarch Bioenergy is also part of Smithfield Renewables, Smithfield’s platform to unify and accelerate its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. Launched in 2016, Smithfield Renewables helps the company meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2025. In addition to renewable energy projects, Smithfield is implementing a variety of projects across its supply chain to support its carbon reduction efforts.