Conserving energy and mitigating climate change are global priorities. One ongoing promising solution is the conversion of potentially harmful raw waste materials into sustainable energy sources, such as converting animal slurry waste to create green biogas. According to the Climate Change Committee’s ‘Progress in Reducing Emissions’ 2023 report, agriculture accounts for 48% of the UK’s methane emissions, emphasising the urgency for action in this sector.

One way of converting potentially harmful materials into a sustainable solution is the conversion of slurry to green biogas. While this process is still gaining traction, the total amount of biogas energy worldwide increased by 2.4% in 2022.
Rainbarrow Farm, located on the outskirts of Dorchester, Dorset, stands as a pioneer in this field. Home to one of the UK’s first Anaerobic Digestion plants, Rainbarrow Farm produces Biomethane “green” gas, which is directly injected back into the national gas grid network. Recently, they upgraded their original ageing CHP unit to a new KE-MBG 450kWe Gentec CHP unit which incorporates a MAN Rollo E3262 LE242 Biogas fuelled engine, ensuring continued efficiency and sustainability.

As experts in CHP supply & installation, this is a trend we are thrilled to be a part of at Helec. This article will explore what it means to convert slurry for savings and highlight the benefits available to customers.

What Is Green Biogas?

If you are not familiar with biogas, we thought it would be a good idea to share a short overview of this energy source.

Biogas is an eco-friendly and sustainable renewable energy source produced from the breakdown of natural waste materials. Most often used is animal, plant and food waste; of which energy is produced from a technical process called anaerobic digestion. This involves bacteria being used to break down organic matter due to Oxygen being removed. The microorganisms produce biogas in liquid form, with the remaining matter being suitable for use as a fertiliser as all germs have been removed beforehand. With the result being both a usable energy source and quality materials suitable for farming and future crop growth, the solution is duly referred to as a “green energy source”.

During the recent Future of Farming seminar at Cenex LCV Expo on September 7, 2023, Penny Atkins, CEO of the International Fugitive Emissions Abatement Association (IFEAA), shed light on progress towards methane emissions reduction in the UK. She stressed the importance of methane capture from slurry in achieving the UKs emission reduction targets. Methane emissions from slurry are significant contributors to unwanted emissions in the agricultural sector. The UK’s commitment to the global methane pledge necessitates innovative solutions. Organisations such as Bennamann and CNH have developed technology for methane capture from slurry, offering a promising solution to mitigate emissions from livestock farming in the UK & Europe.

What Are the Benefits of Generating and Using Green Biogas?

As you can see from our recent blogs, biogas has already helped many customers reduce both their environmental impacts and money spent on site energy costs. There are many benefits attached to choosing this method of (a) reducing natural site waste and (2) producing ‘green’ energy, which we have shared below. We should also mention that anyone can adopt the process as biogas production is a scalable energy producer. As long as you have a raw material suitable for use and space to carry out the conversion process, biogas production is a viable solution.

Biogas Is a Renewable and Versatile Energy Source

The first major benefit is that biogas is a green and renewable energy source. As it’s produced from organic waste, it means only money must be spent on the conversion tools. Nothing needs to be added to the matter, meaning you only use available waste. This is also a constantly generated source, adding to the status of a renewable energy source. From farmers with animals generating daily waste matter to food producers with unwanted scraps, this method can continually generate energy production for the right people.

The versatility of this energy source also means the generated materials can be used straight back in the production environment. Examples include using biogas as fuel to power on-site machinery, or even to heat homes / processing areas on-site. Essentially, producers can use the land again to power the land, meaning the use of other energy is greatly reduced. This leads to less environmental impact and more financial independence.

A pilot project funded by Cornwall County Council demonstrated the potential benefits of methane capture technology. At Trenance Farm, methane capture from slurry significantly reduced the carbon footprint, showcasing environmental advantages. Moreover, the project highlighted economic potential, with substantial income generation opportunities for regions and individual farms.

A Solution Is Offered for Waste Management

Biogas also offers the benefit of getting rid of unwanted waste. This both eliminates the chance of landfill sites being more hazardous and reduces the impact of the matter on the environment.

For example, methane produced by animal waste is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years. As the main contributor to ground-level ozone formation and a significant reason why environmental quality is rapidly declining, it is a serious issue. Using this waste to convert to energy instead of leaving harmful toxins to impact our environment is a huge advantage.

Biogas Reduce Pollution For Soil and Water Sources

Not only are hazardous materials removed from ecosystems, but the remnants of the production process offer an organic fertiliser. This enriched material turns waste into usable matter in multiple ways, and the high quality means a stronger crop can be produced. Benefits of this include more oxygen being produced, healthier plants and more reliable growth patterns that positively impact financial sectors. Finally, crops that are resilient to disease are also produced, eliminating the chance of food poisoning or environmental harm. The same benefits are also available to water sources as harmful waste is either disposed of in water sources or naturally leaking into them, which is a key source of harm to our aquatic environment.

Low Cost For Improved Economic Gain

Whether you are searching for a method to make a company greener or interested in saving money, the financial benefits of methane capture are substantial. If methane captured from slurry is used to replace natural gas for heating homes, regions could generate approximately £66 million in gross income. Utilising methane for road traffic fuel and claiming RTFO credits could lead to even greater income potential, up to £150 million for regions. Individual dairy farms could also benefit financially, with potential savings of up to £10,000 per year or earnings ranging from £25,000 to £50,000 per year from selling captured methane.

Not only can you benefit from a way to save money, but the technology used in the production process is low-cost, meaning a quick ROI can be experienced. There are also different sizes and specifications of production processes, meaning anyone from household customers to large organisations can find a biogas system ideal for their own needs.

The benefits of facilitating a circular economy include better distribution channels, efficient production, sustainability impacts on other areas, waste management and effective deployment of newly purchased materials.

Why Is the Use of Green Biogas Important at This Time?

We are at a pivotal point in the world in terms of both finances and environmental impacts. Even though many negative effects will take a considerable amount of time to aid, some impacts cannot be undone; there is no better time than the present to make a positive change.

Additionally, when referring to energy consumption, the negative impacts of methane and waste have a lengthy life cycle associated with them. This means that waste produced in recent years will still have a repercussion for a considerable time. By taking a chance now and choosing green biogas, future generations can experience a healthier planet.

Finally, biogas production can still have an immediate impact when used in locations where resources are scarce or too expensive. This is the case for developing countries, as the produced energy source can be used for vehicle maintenance and cooking fuel. Whether you are choosing to produce biogas for your gain or to turn your unwanted resource into a valuable commodity for others, now is the best time to put the systems in place that make this sustainable operation possible and valuable.

How Can Helec Support This Initiative?

In conclusion, efforts to reduce methane emissions in the UK require additional actions to meet commitments. Capturing fugitive methane emissions from slurry presents an opportunity to not only reduce emissions but also improve farm incomes. With innovative technology and supportive initiatives, the path to sustainable energy and economic prosperity is within reach.

At Helec, we offer a range of low carbon technology products that allow our customers to benefit from affordable methods of lowering energy bills and living sustainably. This includes biogas CHP solutions, which provide all the benefits we have explored in this article. We also support many other areas of energy production to help companies operate sustainably. We can assist with site surveys, design systems in order to make it all possible, from hospitality owners looking to use heat pumps as affordable energy sources to farmers wanting to adopt renewable cash lifecycles.

Is the production of green biogas the right solution for your requirements? Contact us now to learn about the best options available.