North Norfolk is firmly on the map when it comes to using local renewable energy, after the Holkham Estate became the first place in East Anglia to use a green gas made from locally-sourced biomass feedstock.
Anaerobic digestion developers, Future Biogas have successfully connected their biogas to grid project, Egmere Energy, to the local gas network on the estate.
Philipp Lukas, managing director of Future Biogas, said: “We are delighted with this Norfolk milestone on the Holkham Estate and look forward to building upon this successful relationship.”
The gas has the potential to fuel over 2,500 homes in winter and up to 40,000 homes in summer, and is created using an anaerobic digestion plant which takes in locally grown break crops. These are sourced from local farms as well as from the Holkham Estate.
James Bracey, estate surveyor at the Holkham Estate, said: “The estate’s partnership with Future Biogas has helped demonstrate its commitment to renewable energy whilst supporting existing farming practices and contributing to a sustainable supply of energy for local homes and businesses.”
Farmers currently using the system have said growing crops for the process fits well with their existing rotations, acting as break crops or providing stubble for vegetables.
These break crops can help them to secure better yields from the food crops that follow as a result of restoring soil fertility, reducing disease and pest pressure and reducing the need for expensive crop protection products.
The anaerobis digestion process also produces a natural, odourless fertiliser called digestate, this organic fertiliser contains all of the nutrient benefits held in the original crop and can be applied to the land to help reduce the amount of artificial fertiliser use.
The biogas produced from the anaerobic digestion process is used in two ways. The majority of the gas is upgraded into biomethane and injected into the National Grid gas network.
The remaining biogas is combusted through an engine which produces electricity that is then then supplied to Holkham Farming Company’s workshop and office. As a result, a significant proportion of electricity created by fossil fuels is reduced on a daily basis for the estate buildings.
Any excess electricity is exported to the national electricity grid.
Visit the Holkham Estate or find out more about events that are coming up over the Christmas period by going to www.holkham.co.uk