Equine waste - a different sort of biofuel

Harnessing horsepower or a load of old pony?

Catherine Strickland, Associate Solicitor, comments:

With the press regularly reminding us of the need to generate greener electricity (despite vocal opposition to nuclear and the presence of wind farms and solar farms), it is easy to overlook the contribution of renewable heat in the quest to create a low-carbon economy.

Biofuels – whether a green version of diesel or biomass products burned in place of (or co-fired with) fossil fuels – already include a wide variety of sources. Many people will be aware of vehicles being powered by cooking oil and extracted liposuction fat, but we’re now told that that Prince Charles’ Aston Martin is powered by wine and waste coffee grinds could be used to power fuel family cars. Meanwhile mustard seeds (or “stinkweed”), algae and waste products from the poultry industry are all helping to wean the global economy off fossil fuels.

The latest entry into the weird and wonderful list of fuels harks back to the pre-industrial world of horsepower – surely the ultimate in multi-use green technology. Once the pre-eminent form of transportation, most horses are now classed as leisure animals. But a pilot programme in Finland looking into the use of dried horse manure as a biofuel has highlighted the dual benefits of safely disposing waste from equestrian centres and producing a green fuel. According to the initial study, the output of three horses can heat a family house in Finland for a whole year.

The extent to which our equine friends are able to help insulate our homes remains to be seen, but it’s possible more horses could soon be earning their keep.

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