Chicken Manure Helps Power UK Town

Chicken Manure Helps Power UK Town

Starting next month, the droppings from thousands of chickens will add their might to a biogas power station serving this Cotsworld market town.

Using chicken manure as well as dung from pigs and other agricultural waste from the area, the plant near Cirencester will convert the feedstock into biogas in an anaerobic digester (a biogas fermenter is pictured below).

"Looking like a giant cupcake, the plant will produce 1 megawatt hours of energy, enough to supply 350 houses with electricity," the firm Alfagy said in its news release about the plant.

The Guardian reported:

"Peter Kindt, managing director of Alfagy, the company supplying the plant's technology, said: 'What makes this project exciting is that farmers deliver energy to the urban environment. We believe this is a model for the future of local power generation.'

"The combined heat and power plant, which will begin operating in November, captures the methane-rich gas released by decomposing organic matter such as chicken manure. This is then burned in a generator to produce renewable electricity and heat. Farmers are paid for the waste and will receive free heat for drying grain and animal housing."

By-products from the conversion can be used as fertilizer, and the odor usually associated with farm waste is diminished during the process as the methane is extracted and burned, Alfagy contends.

Biogas plants are growing in popularity in Europe and Asia -- as this recent article about cogeneration plants in Ukraine, China and India illustrate -- but they aren't as common in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, the Didcot sewage works in Oxfordshire made headlines with its landmark project: the first human-waste-to-energy plant in the U.K. That bioenergy operation is producing enough power for about 200 homes.

Image CC licensed by Flickr users bigbold and law_keven. Fermenter photo courtesy of Alfagy.