The Fortum pilot project in Bergslagen, southern Sweden, will involve manure from 400-500 horses in the area. Stables will have dry bedding delivered to them, and in turn it will then be collected – complete with manure – in order to be burned in power plants then warm households in town Hällefors.
The project starts in October, and will account for five percent of total energy production at the plants.
“Horse manure is an environmental issue today. If it is to be used as fertilizer then it must first lie for eight months to get rid of bacteria, and then it emits methane and nitrous oxide which are harmful for the environment,” Per Harsem from Fortum Horsepower told news agency TT.
Unlike many other kinds, horse manure has the right consistency and moisture content to be used as fuel:
“Cow manure for example has much more liquid and cannot be burned”.
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In order to make environmental gains, Fortum is looking for local suppliers and asks that there are at least 10-20 horses in the stable in order to cover transport costs.
There are about 356,000 horses in Sweden today, and Harsem explained they have calculated that it is possible to process manure from 150,000 of them. That would generate enough energy to heat all of the houses in Östergötland and Gotland.
“Anything is possible. We hope for, and we have had a huge interest in Sweden,” he said.
Fortum aren't the only people interested in the concept. Waste and recycling company Renova announced before the 2017 FEI European Equestrian Championships in Gothenburg that it will create energy and electricity from the manure left by horses participating in the competition.
“There could be (competition in the future). But the secret is to know how to mix it correctly, and we have invested a lot in developing the best way,” Harsem concluded.