Renewable biogas from cow manure injected into grid in UK first

Posted: August 16, 2020 by oldbrew in Emissions, Energy, ideology
Tags: ,

UK first or UK farce? Another consequence of the irrational fear of trace gases in the atmosphere.
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Renewable biogas made from cow manure has been injected into the National Grid in a UK first which will create enough energy to power ten homes for a year, reports yahoo! news.

The Murrow Anaerobic Digestion Plant in Cambridgeshire mixed the manure with straw and left it in an oxygen-free environment to produce methane, which has been sold to the grid so people can use it to cook meals and heat their homes.

Biogas is being increasingly looked at by energy companies as it offers far better carbon emissions savings than natural methane gas.

It could also be a boon for farmers, who could sell their manure to energy companies in order for it to be turned into renewable gas. The post-brexit agriculture bill also enshrines extra payments for farmers who use their land and livestock to help the environment.

This method is currently being explored in California, US, with farmers hoping it could be a “new goldrush” and help offset the methane emissions from the cows throughout their lives on the farms.

This trial began in July and the National Grid confirmed this week that it was connected to the Gas National Transmission System late last month, successfully enabling flows of up to 15,000 standard cubic meters per hour of the biogas into the grid.

There are now plans to roll this method of creating energy from farm waste out country-wide in order to increase the amount of renewable energy we use.

Ian Radley, head of gas systems operations at National Grid, said this method will “play a critical role in the journey to Britain achieving net zero”.

Full report here.

  1. Gamecock says:

    The illustration shows their CO2 is absorbed by plants through photosynthesis.

    I suppose because it originally came from a cow. Or something.

  2. Interesting!

    I wonder what the whole project life cycle cost is?

    Do the costs include collecting the manure, trucking it to the digester, building the digester, cost of control and monitoring system, cost of gas pumping, cost of connecting to the gas grid and removal of the used waste?

    It sounds expensive for 10 houses, but with green accounting techniques one can accompish anything.

  3. Filbert Cobb says:

    AD has been touted for years as a solution to the pollution issues around bovine wastes. It’s good in theory but the engineering usually fails because water doesn’t digest and grit and stones conspire to destroy pumps. The gas yield from direct starch or edible oil inputs is much higher than from shit and become the inputs of choice when the farmer tumbles to this. The cows then become superfluous. Centralised AD utilising cow wastes relies on moving large volumes of very low value materials of 75% or more water content by road. Go figure …

  4. Gamecock says:

    Pick up the manure in the fields, stack it and dry it, then burn it for fuel. 2,000,000,000 people do.

    First World solution to a problem that was solved millenia ago.

  5. Johna says:

    It will be more beneficial to the UK General Public for cow’s et al to be fed chemical free food and foster a health lifestyle for the burgeoning obese populace, who do nothing but sit and play and or forced to use computers 8 hours a day. The solutions simple though; drag the lazy fks out of Westminster and get them to shovel cow shit and dig for Britain again. Let coal keep the gas mains full and use its chemicals for industry. That’s a real win win win for ploughing the high seas and making Britain Great again Boris – something Winston Churchill would have done long before now!

  6. nessimmersion says:

    So if you take all the manure away, how do you improve / maintain the fertity of the soil if it is no longer “manured”?

  7. JohnM says:

    nessimmersion says:
    August 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    “So if you take all the manure away, how do you improve / maintain the fertility of the soil if it is no longer “manured”?

    One uses fertiliser derived from oil and find, gradually, that the humus of the soil is depleted and everything dries out as it can not retain the rainfall.

    The whole thing is stupid.

  8. Tim Spence says:

    So the Methane is renamed ‘Biogas’ because Biogas offfers better carbon emissions than ‘Methane’ but when burned it produces plenty CO2 which feeds the vegetation that the cows consume.

    If they could use the compost for mushroom farming (entirely possible) they might have a business opportunity. Used mushroom compost can be ploughed straight back as fertilizer.

    Surely it would be better for the farmer to use the gas locally to power tractors etc.

    They miss the opportunity to think local and self-contained, they want to transport the cowpats to be composted (fossil fuels), then once de-gassed they suggest pumping it around the distribution network (fossil fuel powered)

    Take at least 1 zero off any Green claims for capacity, so that means could supply one house, and isn’t Methane a bit of an irritant when burned for heating?

  9. GregG says:

    Topsoil is already getting depleted. Hopefully, the remains of the manure after methane extraction will be returned to the farmers, but that requires transportation both ways What makes more sense is for a farm to power itself with biogas made on site with specially constructed compact digesters. The biogas can be used for grain drying, cooking, powering farm equipment or electricity production.

    If it makes economic sense, it will be done. That’s the way capitalism is supposed to work.

  10. oldbrew says:

    Tim Spence says: ‘Surely it would be better for the farmer to use the gas locally to power tractors etc.’


  11. ivan says:

    Humm, interesting since Norwich had one of those digesters running in the 70s/80s – sorry I can’t remember the exact date I toured the facility. As they say ‘there is nothing new the greens can think up’.

  12. JB says:

    I looked into this solution WRT my BIL’s dairy farm of ~120 head. By the time the continuous feed digester was installed, and the residue hauled off to fertilize the corn field nearby,he would have been into >$10K in 1970 dollars and unable to produce enough gas to power the milk pumps and coolers each day. Amortization even for partial energy supply for the barn was in excess of a decade to break even. Then there was the problem of keeping the digester going, both with manure and proper temperature for anaerobic bacteria. It also added a daily burden of chores that restricted time used for cutting and hauling hay, attending to the herd health needs and calving heifers.

    The worst of it is it requires the cattle to be contained in one area 24/7 in order to collect the manure while still wet for digestion. Containment is unhealthy for the cattle, and opens the door to worse hygiene problems.

    If cattle farmers could have made this work efficiently, they would have done it a century ago. It doesn’t pay, and is a big headache all of its own.

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    The only reason biogas can be counted as “lowering carbon emissions” more than using natural gas is extreme gullibility combined with a lack of basic knowledge of chemistry.

  14. saighdear says:

    No’ much Humm this or that at all! When they say ‘better …. than natural methane gas.’ – I thought ( shouldn’t think so much ) that NATURAL was the Green Mantra: so now we have artificial gas – “Biogas” as in “Artificial” Fertilisers as in Ground rock Phosphate, Lime and the rest…. all frowned upon by the greenies.
    And as for the Coo’n the ‘xhaustpipe cowrtoon, well, er em are stockmen, aka cattlemen readily available? ( min -not mEn nowadays -but it’s still the same fowk – and ‘ow we speke, right munn? ) cattlemin have been made redundant since the times of the N Sea oil expansion in the 70’s – just look around, fewer mixed farms, fewer min working on the land, Livestock marts closing down …..and wwhere there are the occasional DAIRY units they are BIG – as are the subsequent problems of effluent disposal and living with the neighbours …..
    In short, the Politicians and MSM ( inicludes the Farming Press) have been throwing so m uch schiht high up in the air – but Newton was always correct. now WE see the results and the Spreaders don’t want to know…….

  15. Graeme No.3 says:

    I was reminded of a case years ago, about 1983. A large multinational chemical company had a factory next to a very large rubbish dump, which occasionally, well often, emitted foul smells. The factory was blamed.
    Examining the rubbish dump revealed that it was “sealed” with a layer of clay soil supposedly stopping emissions, but it was emitting enough for bubbles of gas to break up the ‘sealing layer’.
    A quick check revealed that the gas was largely methane (with some foul smelling other gases). The solution was to install pipes below the sealing layer and direct the gases into the factory boiler**. That removed the foul smelling compounds and also provided the factory with ‘free’ fuel, enough to avoid run the entire factory.

    **I assume they had a gas holder type arrangement but didn’t see that detail.

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