Cows by Sunfox
I read today in the Guardian that Lunen, a town north of Dortmund in Germany is to become the first town to be powered by animal waste when it launches a 6.8 mw power plant later this year - enough to power and heat 26,000 houses.

This is great news, but the first thought that came to my mind was ‘about time!’. We’ve known for a very long time that animal and human manure has potential for power generation, but it seems to have remained a cottage industry rather than going mainstream. I’m not the first person to bring them up, but the reasons are obvious:

  • A never-ending supply of manure. As long as we and our animals continue to eat, we will produce…
  • Reducing the need for waste disposal or treatment
  • By products in the form of highly effective, organic, fertiliser
  • Power generated by natural resources

I’m guessing that the reasons that more hasn’t been done here and sooner are the same as for many such potential CO2 reduction solutions: ‘the investment required doesn’t make it financially viable in the short or even medium term. We just can’t justify it.’ But surely the same people saying this are the governments and official bodies who have finally (apparently) recognised that we need to do as much as we can as soon as possible, and the same people who have just spent billions on bailing out our banks?

There are many different potential solutions for reducing our CO2 emissions, some easier than others, some cheaper than others. The most important are undoubtedly related to power generation: solar, wind, hydro, waves -all based on natural, never-ending energy sources. I think we need to add manure - or more simply, poo to this list. As long as we’re around, there will be poo, so let’s use it, rather than letting it go to waste.