Axpo Iberia: Biomethane from livestock manure

01.02.2022 – Pioneering work in Catalonia: Axpo's Spanish subsidiary and the family-owned Torre Santamaría dairy cattle farm have inaugurated the first biogas plant in Spain to convert all the organic waste from a livestock operation into 100% renewable biogas and electricity. Under a long-term contract, Axpo Iberia will feed the produced bio-methane into the local gas grid. The cooperation between Axpo and the dairy business is a model for other facilities wishing to convert solid and liquid manure into energy, and contribute to reducing the environmental impact of the livestock sector.

Axpo and Spain's first energy self-sufficient dairy farm are showing how the recycling economy of the future might look. The farm’s investment of nearly four million Euros in a state-of-the art biogas plant was made possible by the signing of a long-term contract with Axpo Iberia for the purchase and marketing of bio-methane, the first such agreement in Spain.

All the organic waste from the farm, located in the Catalan municipality of Vallfogona de Balaguer (Lleida), is converted into bio-methane. The gas is then used to generate electricity for the farm, with any surplus gas fed into the local grid, operated by Spain’s gas distributor Nedgia. The system has allowed the dairy farm to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero, while feeding surplus clean energy into the grid generates additional revenues. This shows how the use of renewable energy from organic waste can be profitable while also ensuring the sustainability of livestock farming by reducing its environmental impact.

Speaking at the inauguration of the biogas plant, the Managing Director of Axpo Iberia, Ignacio Soneira, remarked that it would be possible to replicate the project at other livestock operations and make a contribution to sustainability: "Solid and liquid manure have a negative impact on land, groundwater and the atmosphere due to methane emissions. When we convert this waste into bio-methane, we can use it fully in the form of energy that is consumed at the dairy farm or fed into the gas grid."

In Catalonia alone, some eight million pigs, 700,000 cattle and 38 million chickens generate about 17 million tonnes of liquid manure. Two years ago, the European Commission issued Spain with an ultimatum to deal with the problem of land contamination from livestock farming, pointing out the alarming situation in Catalan regions with high livestock and agricultural production. As a result, the interest in biogas plants for local livestock and agriculture in Spain has increased significantly in recent years. With the pioneering project in Catalonia, Axpo Iberia has positioned itself as a partner for livestock operations and plans to continue expanding this area of its business.

Axpo is also active in the marketing of biogas and related certificates in other countries, including Switzerland.

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