The production of biogas from manure at a farm level is the very epitome of a sustainable bioenergy system, featuring a circular economy, decentralised production of organic biofertilizer and biogas for use in heat, power or transport fuel, whilst simultaneously reducing methane emissions from open slurry holding tanks, reducing smells and minimising pollution effects on rivers and wells.
The question of why manure is not more commonly used to produce biogas lies at the heart of a recently published report by IEA Bioenergy, the international bioenergy collaboration setup by the International Energy Agency (IEA) with the aim of improving cooperation and information exchange between countries that have national programmes in bioenergy research, development and deployment.
The detailed report examines the potential of manure for utilization in biogas facilities across seven countries: Germany, Australia, Austria, Norway, Canada, Ireland and the UK, each with differing levels of biogas industry, very different farming practices and a range of climates. It states that the key factors which define the suitability of manure as an AD feedstock include:
- biogas potential
- water content
- unwanted and inhibitory materials
- herd size
- where the manure is processed
- and the resulting amount of manure available to the biogas facility
It is hoped that the lessons learned can be applied to many countries across the planet.