South Korea Turns On the Piggy Poo

Amidst the stink over the nuclear program up north, South Korea has begun to tap a considerably less controversial energy source: pig poop. A power plant to the southeast of capital Seoul, capable of generating 30 kW from a daily feed of 20 tons of pig manure, is part of the government’s continuing greening efforts amidst a booming high-tech economy, which is the world’s 11th largest. As a developing country, South Korea’s not yet beholden to the Kyoto Protocol, but with plans to join and with the world’s 10th largest greenhouse gas footprint in the world, it’s becoming increasingly conscious of stepping lighter. Yesterday, the government also announced that domestic companies will be eligible for cheap loans when they build facilities aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This comes a month after the ministry said it would seek to cut at least 1 million tons of emissions per year by handing out cash rewards to firms reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But back to the poop...

It may sound like bull, but by converting the power stored in pig manure to electricity, the government hopes to eventually create the energy equivalent of 360,000 tons of oil a year from animal waste, while preventing the release of all that methane (which has more than 20 times the global warming effect of a CO2 molecule). Plus, by doing what has already been done at zoos, pig farms, chicken farms, dog parks, and on trains, the country potentially reduces the toxic ground pollution of its 51 million tons of animal waste each year. Said Choi Byoeng-dal, an energy-ministry official: "We plan to build three more cogeneration power plants of this type this year, and maybe even up to 20 new facilities by 2008." Hot shit. And with the right technology, manure can even be used to create oil. Tech is certainly not lacking in South Korea, which, as the most wired county in the world, is fast becoming the regional leader in tech innovation. It’s a familiar story in these environmental-necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention days: as long as countries like South Korea need energy--and create things like greenhouse gases and waste--more bright green (and gold) ideas are sure to emerge from the south of the peninsula, and from the unlikeliest of places.

Top image from Pink Floyd's Animals.

See Manure Power in the Spotlight, TH Picks – Behold – The Power of Poo and Korean Instutute of Energy Research

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