In the latest development of large-scale biomass energy production, the Netherlands is now home to the world’s largest biomass power plant running only on – yep, you got it – chicken manure. Though biomass energy schemes are hardly anything new, (see these "power to the people" projects in California, China, India and Uganda) it’s a matter of scale and the plant’s dual objective to provide an alternative source of energy, while tackling a serious problem: namely, the high environmental impact of an excess stream of chicken droppings. As Dutch agriculture minister Gerda Verburg announced during the plant’s opening last week, the plant will convert one third of the country’s total 1.2 million tons of poultry waste produced per year, or 440,000 tons.
Located in Moerdijk, Zeeland and running at a capacity of 36.5 megawatts, the plant will generate more than 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year enough to power approximately 90,000 households.
The Dutch multi-utility company Delta, which constructed and operates the 150 million euro plant, is calling it a carbon-neutral effort as it will preclude the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane from chicken waste, which is usually laid out as fertilizer over vast tracts of farmland.
Previously, over 800,000 tons of Dutch poultry poop had to be processed abroad at a high cost. Now, the remaining ashes of the manure will be sold as a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and kalium.
Furthermore, the Dutch cooperative "Duurzame Energieproductie Pluimveehouderij (DEP)" (Sustainable Energy Production in the Poultry Sector) gives its 629 poultry farming members a eco-friendly and profitable waste management option by allowing them to provide chicken waste to the power plant.
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