A big player in the UK's energy future...


Ricci Bryson

We were somewhat intrigued when our blog team here read that pig slurry was helping farms to reduce their energy bills and cut carbon across Northumberland. We initially wondered whether they’d come up with a slightly pungent yet innovative insulation method…Mercifully, no.

It all boils down, or breaks down to be precise, to the increasingly in-vogue waste treatment technology called Anaerobic Digestion (AD).  Unless you’re from a rural community or have an in-depth knowledge of Energy from Waste (EfW) technologies, you may not be very much aware of AD and its benefits.

Anaerobic digestion is a process by which micro-organisms break down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, the by-product being a very useful biogas.   At the moment, there are over 50 Anaerobic Digestion facilities across the country, with more planned in the pipeline over the next few decades.  Anaerobic Digestion is a welcomed form of energy from waste (EfW) technology that not only helps us to cut our dependency upon fossil fuel, but it also helps the UK to meet our future carbon reduction targets.

In this particular case in Northumberland, a new £1.2 million anaerobic digestion (AD) facility has been opened on Cockle Park Farm, the first in the region to be installed on a working farm. The energy produced from the slurry here will be used to keep pigs warm on the farm and generate green electricity to power the additional buildings. Honestly, we’re not telling you any porkies!

All in all it’s an excellent example of the waste hierarchy in action, finding a use, and in this case a valuable money saving one for the farm, for biodegradable waste.

As part of the government’s AD action plan, WRAP has recently launched a £10 million fund to support the roll-out of anaerobic digestion in England. WRAP’s AD fund is open for applications until October 31 2011.

As you can see, there’s just loads going on to help people across the country think about the benefits of anaerobic digestion, and potentially be happier than pigs in…