15 November 2010
by Timon Singh
Chicken manure is becoming a renewable energy source of choice for many countries. The UK has a plan to convert a local Alfagy biogas station so that it uses agricultural waste, such as feedstock waste and manure, to create electricity.
The power plant, which is located on the southern outskirts of Cirencester, is scheduled to be opened on November 1. Its location in Cirencester was selected due to the area’s large chicken population and its proximity to other agricultural industries.
Various UK projects have looked at plans to use animal waste to create energy, including one that would have utilised cow manure as an energy source. this Alfagy plant will use the manure of smaller farm animals, as well as agricultural feedstock. Local farmers will deliver any agricultural plant waste, chicken litter, and pig manure that they have to the station, for which they will be paid for. They will also receive free heat for their animal barns, grain-drying bins, and homes. It is a fantastic opportunity for farmers, and it is hoped that many will join the endeavour.
Once delivered to the power plant, the agricultural waste will be converted into biogas via an anaerobic digester. According to Alfagy, the station will then use a combined heat and power (CHP) system in which one 260-kilowatt CHP unit can perform at a 42.9 percent electrical efficiency. When the plant is operating at full capacity, it is expected to produce about 1 megawatt of electricity per year — enough to power about 350 Cotswolds homes (Cirencester’s population is about 19,000). The station will also create digestate fertilizer.
In a statement, Alfagy said, “This ‘digestate’ is a powerful fertilizer that decreases the average fertilizer costs by up to 100 percent, which is a major cost to farmers and the environment. Normal fertilizer production uses large amounts of fossil fuel [and emits] significant quantities of carbon dioxide, and the finished product is transported over great distances to farmers. Whereas [if] the fertilizer is produced locally at the power plant, there is no necessity in importing it from the U.S.”