Rural futures lead the consultancy team which included CNG Services, specialists in biogas to grid and SKM Enviros.
The purpose of this report was to investigate the economic feasibility of different models of farm based AD development within the Cheshire and Warrington area. Given that farms in the study area are predominantly engaged in livestock enterprises, the study focused on AD models in which the primary input material was animal waste with potential secondary feed stocks being derived from off farm energy crops.
The financial modelling was based on three farm models of biogas supply:
- 150 head dairy unit and 30% energy crop
- A cluster of three 150 head dairy units and 30% energy crop
- 300 head dairy unit and 30% energy crop
The modelling shows that capital costs are a major factor in farm AD viability. The larger the gas volume produced the more energy market options are available. If technology reduces in cost the viability of the various scenarios improves significantly.
The technology review within the study identified a number of new entrants to the AD market that are specifically targeting the livestock sector. This equipment is significantly cheaper than the more traditional AD systems available. As yet most of the new micro AD systems are not fully market tested but they do show that the technology is beginning to meet the market demand. The report concludes that within the next few years capital costs will reduce to the point where significant returns can be achieved.
In summary if capital costs of micro AD systems continue to fall, financial viability of slurry based AD is achievable for the typical Cheshire and Warrington dairy unit. In certain situations there will also be the potential for gas to grid opportunities but this will be reliant on significant reductions in capital costs of equipment and large numbers of cattle being located close to a centralised AD and BtG plant.
Cattle Waste Distribution by District