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    Race On to Harness Methane Gas from Waste Material
2009-04-30

Livestock farmers and dairy producers have been forced to reconsider their processes for the disposal of farmyard manure and liquid slurries, due to strict new regulations relating to Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs).

© www.farm-images.co.uk

Slurry spreading

The new rules make it far more difficult to dispose of waste material on land, and many farmers will be forced to invest in expensive storage solutions in order to comply with the regulations. But there is an alternative. Rather than investing in storage facilities which are a costly overhead, farmers could consider an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant that would convert the waste slurries and manure into methane gas, which could, in turn, be used to generate heat and power. A more controversial solution would be for the dairy farmer to consider selling the cows, retaining the land and producing grass or maize silage to feed the AD plant. Gas yields from silage are six times higher than those from slurries and manure.

It is not just livestock farmers, however, that generate waste products to be utilised by AD plants. Vegetable and fruit growers in the UK generate hundreds and thousands of tonnes of waste plant material every year, yet very few producers realise that this plant material is a highly valuable source of fuel for an AD plant, and could be generating hundreds of thousands in revenue. In some cases, the material can produce millions of pounds worth of electricity that could be sold into the National Grid.

Fisher German’s renewable energy division is working with several renewables companies seeking sites for AD and gasification plants in the UK, based on the utilisation of waste agricultural produce. Producers generating waste material such as cabbage, cauliflower and other root crop trimmings, through to poultry waste, fruit pulp and the usual slurries and manures all have a valuable commodity which could be used in the AD process.

Suitable sites should be able to provide sufficient fuel to generate in excess of 1MW of electricity per annum. This equates to 20,000-40,000 tonnes of either crop waste or crops grown specifically for fuel. Although the capital cost of developing such a plant is substantial, there are companies with sufficient capital funds to develop sites, and are keen to discuss Joint Venture arrangements with potentially interested producers. Central Government is encouraging farmers and landowners to embrace renewable energy production and AD technology in particular by pledging £10 million in new grants in the recent budget . The NFU has also pledged to deliver 1,000 farmbased AD plants and 100 larger scale AD plants by 2020.

The renewables sector is a fastmoving industry, which is not as affected by the current economic downturn and producers and growers who are interested in investigating these exciting possibilities should enquire further. If you think you have a suitable potential site Henry Sale (01858 411217) or Stephen Rice (01295 226297) from Fisher German would like to hear from you or visit the website www.fishergerman.co.uk.

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link Managing Farmyard Manure for the Greatest Value
link Surge in Demand for Calcified Seaweed Fertiliser

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