Sunday 18 August 2019

Cow manure power plan steams ahead

Despite the chilly wind, there was some sun. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Grass: a new potential power source. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Two hundred farmers will soon be generating electricity from cow manure and there are plans to recruit 1,000 in four years, reports NOS on Tuesday.

FrieslandCampina, the largest dairy collective in the Netherlands, set up a business in September called Jumpstart to channel subsidies to farmers who want to install mono-digesters that break down waste into biogas.

Henk Kamp, minister for economic affairs, has committed €150m to the project and turned on the first mono-digester in Friesland on Tuesday morning.

FrieslandCampina plans to pay farmers a surcharge of €10 per thousand litres of milk they sell if they buy a mono-digester, and currently works with 13,500 of the Netherland’s 17,000 farmers. The organisation has committed to carbon-neutral growth, and currently most of the 13% of carbon emissions from the agriculture sector come from methane released by cow manure.

There has been some debate about whether it is sustainable to generate electricity from cow dung, since mono-digesters only become profitable for a farm of at least 150 cattle.

On Monday, FrieslandCampina announced that it wants to change its profit-sharing scheme with members, abolishing a quantum allowance and effectively stopping seasonal payments to farmers. It intends to increase its premium for outdoor grazing to €1.50 per 100kg of milk (from €1), and final proposals will be agreed in December.

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