Power From Poop is Driving Profits Up for US Energy Giants

Date: 21 March 2016
Author: Susanne Posel

Duke Energy announced in a press release that the utility owner has plans to utilize methane derived from pig and poultry feces in order to generate electricity.

Duke is partnering with Carbon Cycle Energy to combine forces to take advantage of “technological advances that allow waste-to-energy projects in North Carolina to be done in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner for our customers.”

The methane “captured” by this waste will be treated and transported for use at:

• Buck Steam Station in Rowan County
• Dan River Steam Station in Rockingham County
• H.F. Lee Station Combined Cycle Plant in Wayne County
• Sutton Combined Cycle Plant in New Hanover County

This move by Duke could be part of a trend taking hold in the energy industry wherein biowaste is touted as the next clean energy source.

And while electricity from feces sounds a bit peculiar, in Ghana the Technology Consultancy Centre of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and a company called SNV are replacing traditional methods of heating to introduce the idea using human biowaste for cooking and heating.

The idea is to remove the threat of sanitation in African nations by turning fecal matter into useful products that can be adopted by residents as a replacement for using firewood, for example, to save trees from being cut down.

Back in 2012, Toto Ltd, a Japanese-based corporation, unveiled the Toilet Bike Neo (TBN), a biogas fueled motorbike that uses a combination of purified livestock waste and gray-water to power the vehicle.

Surprisingly, the TBN can go up to 182 miles on one tank of biowaste.

In the UK the Bath Bus Company (BBC) has created the first public transport vehicle that is powered by “human sewage and food waste”.

Called the Bio-Bus, this vehicle seats 40 passengers and can run 186 miles on a full tank of … poop.

The Bio-Bus derives its fuel from a sewage treatment plant and only needs “the annual waste of about 5 people” to power this bus.

Back in 2009, the capital city of Oslo in Norway began using biomethane from human waste to power public transport buses to “cut fuel costs and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by both the treatment plants and the buses.”

Ole Jakob Johansen, project manager, told the press : “Using biomethane makes sense. Not only would the biomethane otherwise be wasted, but the reduction in emissions per bus will go a long way to achieving our carbon-neutral target.