April 16 2013

Sustainable Farming in the 21st Century: Anaerobic Digestion in The Netherlands

In the neighbourhood “Polderwijk of Zeewolde, The Netherlands, more than a thousand homes, schools and a churches are sustainably heated with green heating that is produced with the production of electricity from biogas. The project is a partnership between the municipality, a local energy company (Essent) and a farm (Van Beek) located 5 km from Polderwijk. Annually, the farm of Van Beek produces around ten million kilowatt hours of electricity from biogas.

Van Beek currently has a 5.5 kilometre long pipeline for biogas that has been in operation since the beginning of 2009. The pipeline was laid from the manure digester on Van Beek’s farm to the heating plant for the Polderwijk. The operation has been so successful that a second pipeline is to be built from another digester. This new pipeline will see that the current production of green energy at the heating plant can be more than doubled. As Polderwijk is growing to 3,000 homes, this is essential to continue the use of green heating. This construction will also see the Netherlands gain its first biogas hub.

biogas production in the netherlands

The anaerobic digesters that convert cow manure into electricity

This project shows how the municipality of Zeewolde has effectively created a residential area that is heated in a durable and energy efficient manner. This not only has helped to reduce Carbon emissions, but also helped change the attitudes of people who did not think positively towards 140 cows delivering district heating for Polderwijk. Furthermore, the system supplies the market with a large amount of green electricity and remaining manure can be sold as fertilizer, leading to more economic benefits.

cows in the netherlands producing biogas

Cows can now be seen as a valuable asset in regards to the production of green electricity

Do you believe Anaerobic Digestion is a sustainable way of farming? How would you like to be situated near one, taking into consideration not only cheaper electricity but the possible smell and fumes that could potentially come from it?

Credits: Photographs by Finbar Gillen. Data linked to sources.

Finbar Gillen

I am currently in final year studying Environmental Planning in Queen's University Belfast, and I am considering doing a related masters course, I am also undertaking some voluntary placement in Johns, Cassidy & Co. Omagh, County Tyrone. I hope this will be some sort of stepping stone when searching for work in the years to follow

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 9:52 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Infrastructure, Land Use. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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