UK dairy cooperative converts cow manure into biogas to fuel milk fleet
UK dairy cooperative Arla is driving its sustainability to the next level with a unique three-month trial which will transform cow manure from its farms into biomethane which can be injected into the national grid. With the help of Gasrec, this biomethane can then be drawn down and used to fuel a pair of trucks being used to transport milk from the participating farms to the cooperative’s dairy processing sites.
Together, the two vehicles are expected to cover around 90,000km during the trial and help reduce Arla’s carbon impact by around 80 tons – the equivalent to 23 car journeys around the world.
Arla will use manure from 500 cows – that’s around 190 tons of slurry each week – to create 27,000 liters of biomethane to fuel the trial vehicles. This will see farmers send their cows’ manure to a nearby anaerobic digestion plant where it will be broken down into different components, including clean biomethane.
The trial, in partnership with Kite Consulting and Olleco, makes Arla the first UK business to use waste from its own farms to power both its tankers and create nutrient-rich fertilizer which Arla farmers can put back on to their land, making it an entirely closed loop. If it proves a success, it will lay clear foundations for a new approach to more sustainable fuel solutions within the industry and beyond.
“Using manure from our farms helps us reduce our waste and rely less on air-polluting fossil fuels, so we can already see clear benefits. With the help of our partners and suppliers, we have created a fully closed loop which, at scale, could be revolutionary in helping fuel a greener future,” commented Graham Wilkinson, Agriculture Director at Arla.
“Arla approached us to help with this project because it recognized we could help them to access Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO)-certificated biomethane through our network,” said James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer of Gasrec. “The mass balance system allows us to take the volume of biomethane Arla is feeding into the national grid through anaerobic digestion, and pump the same amount of bio-LNG back into their trucks, directly from our forecourt.”
The RTFO scheme is administered by the Department of Transport to encourage the use of renewable fuels in the transport sector. Qualification under the RTFO program ensures fuel is from renewable sources and allows the reporting of CO2 savings by vehicle operators. This makes it ideal for fleets wanting to maximize their sustainability in a similar way to domestic users buying renewable electricity through the Green Energy Supply Certification Scheme.