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The renewable energy solution that keeps this UNESCO world heritage site beautiful

January 18, 2016

Often called “the Hawaii of Korea,” Jeju Island is a tropical destination, popular among vacationing tourists and newlyweds. In fact, it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007 for its outstanding aesthetic beauty. The island is also home to a robust swine production industry, which is expected to operate without emitting odors that interfere with local tourism.

To help local livestock producers preserve the island’s natural environment, a U.S. $500,000 grant was awarded to Jeju National University in 2011. The donation helped fund the construction of a bio-gas plant, designed to process manure from local swine producers in new ways.

inpage-jeju-biogasThrough its continued commitment to emission reduction, Cargill is helping the Korean government build a similar bio-gas facility in Yangsan. The state-of-the-art facility redirects waste into covered fermentation ponds, where it is converted into methane that powers electric generators. It produces more than 700,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, providing power to the plant, as well as fueling the local power grid.

Importantly, the plant’s tightly sealed system also reduced the unpleasant odor associated with livestock manure, helping to maintain the island’s reputation as a pleasant vacation destination. In addition, the process allowed excess waste to be turned into high-quality, organic fertilizer and sold directly to farmers.

This innovative approach not only eliminated smells and created new economic opportunities, but benefited the environment by generating renewable energy and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 4,134 t CO2 in its first year. As a result of its success, the Korean government has decided to implement the model elsewhere, and is consulting with Cargill on the construction of a similar facility in Yangsan.

This article first appeared on CargillVoice on Forbes.