Offset Purchases Support Methane Reductions and Help to Clean Up Farm Operations
Waste and how it’s handled on North Carolina’s 2,400+ swine farms represent one of the state‘s biggest environmental problems. Currently, most swine operations use open-air lagoons to store the animals’ waste, which is intermittently sprayed onto nearby fields. The nutrients and metals in the waste harm water quality, and the lagoons emit powerful odors of sulfur and emissions of ammonia as well as methane, a greenhouse gas approximately 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Payments for offsets generated by methane capture or avoidance on North Carolina’s swine farms can serve as a significant incentive to farmers to install innovative waste management systems. These systems not only stop methane from getting into the atmosphere but also meet stringent environmental performance standards,* and in some cases can generate renewable energy. It is estimated that methane captured and combusted from North Carolina’s swine farms could generate up to 766,000 MWh of electricity (enough to power almost 70,000 homes) and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.59 MtCO2e (13 times Duke‘s 2007 GHG emissions) per year.
The University and the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative have been working over the past several years to develop offsets from innovative animal waste management systems. The offsets purchased through the DukeEngage pilot will be supplied from these efforts.
*Environmental performance standards established in 2007 for new and expanded swine operations require substantial elimination of odors, ammonia, nutrients, heavy metals, as well as the elimination of runoff of waste to surface and groundwater. See http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/aps/afou/downloads.htm.