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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Dung power station fires up
The dung-fired power station at Holsworthy, Devon
The new power station will use 146,000 tonnes of slurry
The UK's first dung-fired power station began production of electricity on Thursday.

The pioneering 7m plant at Holsworthy in Devon will process 146,000 tonnes of slurry from 30 local farms every year.

Methane gas from the fermented slurry will power the plant, Holsworthy Biogas, to produce electricity for the national grid.

The process will also provide hot water for low-cost heating around Holsworthy, and organic manure for farmers to use on their land.

'Very safe'

The German company behind the plant, Farmatic UK, is hoping it could be the first of a network of "green" energy plants in the UK.

Managing director of Farmatic and the man behind the new plant, Jorgen Fink, from Denmark, said that it would take up to two months for the operation to reach full capacity.


It is a good thing for farmers and the countryside

Farmer Nigel Firs
He said: "We are commissioning the gas engine and testing it at full capacity today, and electricity is going to be produced.

"I would say that the plant in Devon can actually produce enough energy to cover the whole of Holsworthy.

"We are planning to start power production and sell to the National grid now."

He added: "What we are doing is very safe and a lot of people have shown an interest in the UK but they are waiting to see this one up and running first.

Pasteurised process

"We hope to build at least 100 farms in the UK."

The processed material which eventually leaves the plant is safe for farmers to spread on their fields because it goes through a pasteurisation process to remove the risk of disease.

Charles Clarke
Charles Clarke: "No smell"
Charles Clarke, owner of the plant, said local residents had nothing to fear about smells.

"There was some worry about the smell but the process we use takes it out," he said.

"I don't think people realise that we have already started production because there is no smell."

Nigel Furrs is one of 30 farmers who will be providing slurry to the new power station.

He told the BBC News 24: "I'm quite looking forward to it.

"The PH levels in the bio-fertiliser we will be getting are a lot better than what we normally use so this should be a good thing for farmers and the countryside."

Dung-fuelled power stations are popular in Germany and Denmark, with each operating about 20 large-scale plants.


Click here to go to Devon
See also:

17 May 02 | England
05 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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