Lamp inspired by cow poo power lights up Westminster, highlighting potential for better energy security
Arla, the UK’s biggest dairy cooperative, is calling on the UK Government to help farmers utilise renewable energy sources like biogas, supporting the UK’s energy independence
Today (18 April) a replica Victorian Sewer Lamp has been erected near Parliament Square to draw attention to the untapped potential of biogas derived from cow poo and food waste as a renewable energy source.
After the Government at the end of March announced a major new strategy to deliver energy security and net zero, the UK’s biggest dairy cooperative Arla is drawing attention to this often overlooked source of cleaner energy, calling for a new plan to harness its potential to power the UK’s homes and businesses.
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. Today we can once again harness the power of poo to help solve the UK’s energy security crisis with a nationwide strategy for anaerobic digestion of farm and food waste.
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.
For example, Arla’s C.A.R.E programme, an industry-leading set of welfare and sustainability standards, 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.”
In November 2022, Arla announced it would power seven lorries in its logistics fleet with slurry and with food waste from its distribution site in Hatfield. The digestate by-product of the anaerobic digestion process is a stable natural fertiliser that is already used by Arla farmers across the country.
To find out more about Arla’s C.A.R. E programme and how Arla farmers are turning cow poo into power, visit www.arlafoods.co.uk/food-for-thought/renewable-energy/
Notes to editors
*Biomethane: The pathway to 2030, ADBA
** Co-operative, Animal Welfare, Renewable Energy and Ecosystem