Pigs in Northumberland will soon be heating their own home thanks to a state-of-the-art anaerobic digester which converts their waste into green energy.
The £1.2m anaerobic digestion facility, with a 75kW average electrical output, is the first in the region to be installed on a working farm and is part of a major drive by Newcastle University to explore new ways in which agriculture can become more sustainable.
The system is already producing heat from the animal dung produced on Cockle Park Farm. The next step will be to use this heat to keep the pigs warm and to generate electricity to power the milking parlour.
Dr Paul Bilsborrow, based in the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said the aim was to work with North East farmers, land managers and other related businesses to find new ways of producing renewable energy from waste. “Anaerobic digestion offers huge potential in terms of utilizing the methane from animal waste and converting it into renewable energy which can be used to heat and power on-farm buildings,” he explained.
“The plant at Cockle Park provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate best practice for integrating this technology within a working mixed farm. It is also an important step towards the creation of a sustainable farm, focused on the production and use of renewable energy.”