A farm near Ardstraw in Northern Ireland is converting organic matter into biogas to provide sustainable heat and power on-site, as well as for local homes and businesses.

The 700-acre Greenhill farm biogas plant is only the second such plant in Northern Ireland. It works by ‘cooking’ animal waste from 600 cows at 40°C to produce methane gas.

The gas is then piped into two engines that drive generators to produce electricity. Hot water is also produced and is used to dry the plant’s residual, as well to pasteurise milk.

According to Alfagy, which supplied the biogas CHP, it has an energy efficiency of 86%, and represents a significant step toward in achieving an energy sustainable Northern Ireland.

The plant produces 430 kWh of power, which is sufficient to supply around 430 homes.

After the process of extracting methane from the manure and vegetation, farmers use the residual waste as a fertiliser to grow animal feed.

Alfagy says the project faced challenges in attracting funding from banks during the financial crisis.

“It is astonishing that more financial support isn’t directed at biogas power plants as they create eight times more value than other renewable technologies such as wind turbines,” says Peter Kindt, Alfagy’s chairman.

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