Arla, the UK’s biggest dairy cooperative, is calling on the UK Government to help farmers utilise renewable energy sources like biogas, in order to boost the nation’s energy independence and aid in the pursuit of net zero emissions.
Following the unveiling of Government’s ‘Powering Up Britain’ energy strategy at the end of March, Arla wanted to highlight the “often overlooked” source of cleaner energy and to this end have had a replica Victorian Sewer Lamp erected near Parliament Square (pictured below) to draw attention to the untapped potential of biogas derived from cow poo and food waste. Tapping into biogas was once a staple of Victorian Britain after Birmingham engineer, Joseph Edmund Webb, patented a sewer gas destructor lamp fuelled by emissions from London’s sewers.
Arla is calling for a new national anaerobic digestion strategy incorporating larger community-based facilities generating biogases that can be fed into the gas grid or used in transport, and small scale digesters creating energy for use on farm. It is also championing better and more affordable grid connections to facilitate an anaerobic digestion revolution and at the same time help more farmers install solar power and other renewables.
The dairy co-op’s own set of welfare and sustainability standards, its’ C.A.R.E programme, requires all farmers to have a Green Energy Plan for increasing the use of renewable sources on their farm.
James Pirie, vice president of logistics at Arla, explains:
“Dairy farmers have the potential to play a major role in the future of the UK’s energy security, using natural resources to provide more energy independence. With better infrastructure and network support, Britain’s livestock sector, including Arla farmers, have the potential to turn nearly 91 million tonnes of manure and slurry and 10 million tonnes of food waste into 8 billion cubic metres of biomethane, enough to power 6.4 million homes.”
“Through initiatives like the Arla C.A.R.E programme, our UK farmers are working hard to accelerate the transition to more sustainable dairy. If we put the right policy changes in place and give our farmers the support they need, we can unlock the potential for even more farms to scale their use of renewable energy sources and ensure a more secure energy system for the future.”
Stephen Temple, Arla Farmer explained:
“Cow slurry has the potential to power communities across the UK and be used as a natural fertiliser to nourish the land we farm. Unfortunately installation of an anaerobic digestor to make this happen is not cheap, and operation and maintenance have to be learnt, but the benefits soon outweigh the obstacles. We’re hoping that with the Government’s help we can resolve the difficulties farmers face with grid connections, costly installations, and regulatory and planning issues so we can better utilise this invaluable energy source.”