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Turning muck into money

Created on 06/06/2017 @ 07:13
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A local firm of auctioneers, valuers, estate agents and surveyors has been appointed the agent for Wales and the Midlands for a specialist in bioelectric micro anaerobic digestion bio-gas plants for dairy farms. 

Shrewsbury-based Halls has agreed to carry out farm surveys for Biolectric to investigate whether the plants are suited to farms where the owners have expressed an interest.

The system, which was developed in Belgium six years ago, is one of the first slurry only AD plants designed specifically for dairy farmers. It operates solely on fresh slurry which is heated to 42 degrees to produce as much methane as possible. The methane is then used to power generators which in turn produce enough electricity to run the farm.

“What I like about the system is that, aside from electricity, it also produces hot water through the engine cooling system which can be used elsewhere on the farm,” said Stuart Richards (pictured), a rural chartered surveyor with Halls. “As a result, the savings an average dairy farmer can make on his energy bills are colossal which, when added to the income generated from the FiTs and RHI, make this product very interesting indeed, especially in the volatile agricultural marketplace.

“As suggested by its name, the system is small, taking up an area not exceeding 20m x 10m. It is containerised and, in most cases, only requires prior approval from the planning authority, not full planning.

“Although it operates on fresh slurry, the smallest 22Kv system needs only eight tonnes a day, meaning that a lot of larger dairies could operate the system via collecting yard scrapings alone. However, those who house their cows for most of the year are best suited to a 44Kv model available for 300 plus cow units, a 33Kv model 180 plus cows units and the smaller 22Kv model for 120 plus cow units.

“Another thing I like is the fact that once the slurry has been through the system, it is methane free with no carbon footprint, something the major milk buyers are starting to think about. The digestate can then be spread onto the land in the conventional way having lost very little of its nitrogen content, or dried using the heat produced from the AD plant to create green bedding or biomass pellets for resale.

“The recent dairy crisis has really driven home the need to streamline and, where possible, take control of costs. In my view, this product has come at just the right time. With an average payback of five to six years and 20 year RHI/feed-in tariff, the system really is worth looking at.”

Dairy farmers requiring more information are asked to contact Mr Richards on Tel: 01743 450700.

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