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Valio and Gasum intend to make energy from farm manure

Finland’s food company Valio and energy company Gasum intend to find solutions to the climate challenge together, binding more atmospheric carbon dioxide in grass fields and generating biogas from manure to replace fossil fuels

Cow manure can be used to generate biogas, which can replace fossil fuels used in transportation. This new statement of intent serves to initiate an investigation into an appropriate cooperation model.

According to Valio, if the cow manure from all its farms is used to make biogas, the volume would be enough to fuel the farm machinery and Valio’s milk collection trucks. Recycling manure into biogas could, therefore, reduce milk’s carbon footprint by up to 50 per cent.

This would reduce the use of fossil fuels as well as methane emissions, generated during manure storage and use, said Juha Nousiainen, director at Valio for the carbon neutral milk chain.

Biogas to reduce traffic emissions

Finland produces around 15mn tonnes of manure every year, making it an interesting raw material for large-scale biogas production. Currently, the market has not taken off, as using manure in biogas production is not profitable in Finland. In other Nordic countries, government subsidies make it possible to use manure as both an ingredient for biogas and as recycled fertiliser, enabling a better nutrient cycle.

Gasum invests in growing its gas refuelling station network in Finland and the other Nordics. Biogas production must increase to meet traffic emissions reduction targets.

Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications published an action plan in December 2018, outlining the changes in Finland’s transportation towards 100 per cent renewable fuel by 2045. One solution is to increase the share of renewable fuels, such as biogas. At the same time, Finland’s government has set a goal to have 50 per cent of the farms’ manure to be recycled by 2025.

Biogas, clean water and fertiliser

The manner of Valio and Gasum’s cooperation will be detailed over the course of this year. One option is to build a shared biogas plant or a network of several plants. All the while, Valio and Gasum are continuing to design their shared plant at Nivala, in Finland’s Ostrobothnia region. An investment decision on the Nivala plant has not yet been made, and the project is in the planning stages.