Here we go again mashing together two news articles which we have found interesting, in order to bring our readers straight to the point regarding an (until now) little appreciated advantage of owning a biogas plant.
It is all about investment in an anaerobic digestion plant helping diversify and through that, to stabilize the financial prospects of the farm, and “provide a nice hedge against the vagaries of the milk market, where prices can fluctuate wildly”. That quotation is taken from our first article, below, and comes from the United States:
“EAE worked closely with two partners to bring this anaerobic digestion system … But one “soft benefit” of the farm’s new anaerobic digestion system is just as …www.exeteragrienergy.com/intangible-crucial-benefit-of-anaer…”
On the other side of the Atlantic, in the UK comes the second article:
“Anaerobic Digestion (AD) specialist EnviTec Biogas UK has seen an increase in enquiries from farmers thinking about moving out of dairy and concentrating solely on power and heat generation. This is particularly the case, said EnviTec, where younger … they may be the Dairy Farmers Consider Selling Herds”
So, clearly, Farmers in both nations are simultanoeusly coming to the same view from the same pressures, and they are going for biogas plants as profitable additions to provide diversification to their farms, and in the UK, even as alternative business models.
Personally, I would think it still to be a step too far to abandon milk production entirely in favour of AD and energy production. That’s because surely the price of milk paid to dairy farmers in the UK will rise back up once the plentiful grass and easy milk and cream production of the last (very wet) three or four months becomes a distant memory, as the autumn moves into winter, in a few months time?
However, that is not to say that grass and silage (stored for winter use) from farms in good grass growing regions of the UK don’t have a great feedstock to run a biogas digester on all year round. But, most UK dairy farms are smaller than US farms and are simply not large enough to feed a big biogas plant, which big enough to provide economies of scale and pay the frequently high the upfront costs for the necessary power grid connections. We would therefore be surprised if they were to be numbered among the dairy farmers that consider selling herds.
Of course, there are buyers emerging in the UK, who will take all the biogas from a large enough plant and upgrade it on-farm to CNG quality and tanker it off-site to supply the newly emerging chains of CNG (biomethane) powered “petrol stations”. These arrangements require no power output-to-grid connection.
Please, as ever, we encourage you to comment on this. We would be interested in your views.