North Brabant and Limburg are rural provinces and house the majority of swine farms in the Netherlands. Now this traditionally agricultural area and its concentration of livestock has led to a situation in which the complete manure cannot be disposed of locally in fields any longer due to the nitrogen absorption limits in the soil being reached.
In typical practice, animal waste is held in large open lagoons before being applied to agricultural land as fertiliser. This practice can affect air quality and impact local ecosystems and it also results in large volumes of methane being released into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and has a global warming affect 21 times that of carbon.
This project has constructed biogas facilities at a cluster of five farms in the Netherlands. It generates renewable electricity and reduces methane emissions to the atmosphere and displaces fossil fuels used to heat local buildings.
Led by the agricultural research station attached to one of the farms, these five farms in the project have adopted a new approach to methane management.
Anaerobic digesters and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plants have been built to utilise the methane. The animal manure is fed directly into the digesters, where the methane is captured and used to run the CHP plants. These range in capacity from 0.3 to 3.5 MW and are used to generate electricity for the local grid and heat for local buildings. As a further benefit of the project, the digested manure at the end of the process is a much higher quality fertiliser than that produced in the open lagoon practice.
Contribution to Sustainable Development
The Sterksel Biogas project contributes to sustainable practice by:
- Supporting innovative research and development in this area and adapting technologies for use in developing countries.
- Creating a knowledge and training centre where people across Europe and South East Asia come to learn about the project.
- Improving local air quality.
- Improving local soil quality.
- Creating a nutrient rich fertiliser as a by product of the process.
- Creating long term sustainable employment.
- Displacing some of the need for fossil fuel power generation in The Netherlands.
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