A new biogas power station in the UK showcases how in future cities and towns will be powered by locally produced energy. The facility, built near the English town of Cirencester, is powered by agricultural biomass, including chicken litter and pig manure, allowing residents to benefit from this low cost alternative to oil, coal and foreign gas.
Cirencester is one of the first towns in the world to benefit from energy derived from chicken litter and leads the way to a greener future. This sustainable technology allows production of local power, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and fuel imports, while the capture of methane from waste reduces the smells normally generated by farms.
Fed by local farms that deliver animal waste, as well as corn, wheat and grass, the power plant is located just south of Cirencester. This feedstock is turned into biogas in an anaerobic digester. The plant will produce 1 megawatt hours of energy, enough to supply 350 houses with electricity.
Operation of a biogas plant in conjunction with a farm makes a great deal of socio-economic sense. The farmer makes money off his waste, reduces cost and limits income volatility. Adopted widely, more jobs will be created in the economy and the cost of food production becomes lower and more stable.
The farmers who erected the biogas plant will have the benefit of free heat for animals, grain drying and housing which was previously a significant expense. But there are other benefits from the biogas process that reduce costs for the farmer. The biogas plant extracts the smell out of waste and burns it in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant after which the leftovers can be used for farming.
This ‘digestate’ is a powerful fertiliser that decreases the average fertiliser costs by up to 100% which is a major cost to farmers and the environment. Normal fertiliser production uses large amounts of fossil fuel, emits significant quantities of CO2 and the finished product is transported over great distances to farmers.
Alfagy was chosen as the main supplier to the project. “As the UK is thirty years behind continental Europe in energy efficiency, we wanted a project in Britain. We have many installations in Europe but this is our first biogas installation in the UK,” says Peter Kindt, managing director of Alfagy.“We believe this is a model for the future of local power generation”