German town to run on dung

Lunen, Germany – By the end of the year, the German city of Lunen is set to be the first to have a dedicated biogas network fuelled by agricultural products including cow dung and horse manure.

Local farms will deliver the raw material – animal waste, corn, wheat and grass including spoiled crops – to the power plant. Here, it will be turned into methane and carbon dioxide in anaerobic digesters. The gas can be burned to generate heat and electricity. The plant produces 6.8MW, enough energy to supply 26,000 houses with heat and electricity.

The gas is distributed throughout the city via a new biogas pipeline network. The network powers a series of twelve Schmitt Enertec Cogeneration units which feed electricity into the grid, and heat into local district heating networks.

The CHP Cogeneration units are camouflaged as decorative installations featuring wood and plants – and the developers say the system will be “barely noticeable” to residents.

“The project was a nice challenge for us.” said Frank Schmitt, managing director of main contractor Schmitt Enertec. “We believe this is a model for the future of local power generation.”

While biogas is already used around the world, Lunen claims to be the first town to have a dedicated biogas network. Other cities across the world are considering similar projects.