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Heating your home with horse dung?

23-06-2015 Posted by:Matt Ridout

TrackerA recent BBC news story reported that the Finnish government wants its population to turn away from fossil fuels and turn towards horse dung as a renewable source of energy. Apparently one energy company is already trialing a mixture of horse manure with a wood-based litter, which is then burned to produce energy. Apparently the annual waste of just three horses could heat a typical family home for a year, this in a country of about 77,000 horses.

With so many horses in the country this new initiative also conveniently solves a big issue for stables – where to dispose of their waste. The Finnish government hopes this will reduce their reliance on coal and imported oil in the coming decade. With nearly a million horses in the UK could this be a useful way to boost our renewable energy supplies too?

While it might sound outlandish, there have been many other instances of odd items used for renewable energy generation, ranging from chocolate to liquor. Here are some of the options that have been suggested:

Chocolate: not just a tasty treat, also a source of renewable energy. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found a way to produce hydrogen from combining the waste products from a chocolate factory with E.coli bacteria. This could mean a breakthrough for industry as a whole, as the process isn’t restricted to chocolate waste but also works well with other types of waste too.

Sound: That next gig you attend could power your phone. Through a process called piezoelectricity materials can generate energy when placed under mechanical stress, such as a sound wave.

Nappies: The bane of a parents life, the 10 to 14 nappies an average newborn uses a day could help provide energy for us all. A Japanese company has devised a way to process used nappies to create fuel chips. As disposable nappies take a massive toll on our environment via landfill waste this new process could be revolutionary.

Booze: The Swedes confiscate a lot of booze on their border, and since 2007 the alcohol confiscated by customs officials has been used to help power the Swedish public transport system. The Biogas now powers some 1,000 trucks, buses and even one train and has greatly reduced the dependency on fossil fuels and saved the space the illegal liquor was taking up.

TrackerHow green is your current energy?
Climate change is a concern for many across the country, so how do we reduce the impact our day to day activities have on the climate? One way in which households could reduce their impact is by switching to a green gas and electricity energy deal, but how can you determine which is the best for you?
Green energy explained
Many suppliers offer “green” tariffs, however what constitutes a green tariff can vary from one supplier to the next. Essentially a green tariff is one that aims to help you make a positive difference to the environment. Some do this by simply offering carbon offsetting or donating to environmental schemes, however most will be looking for a tariff that generates its energy from renewable sources.
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Using a price comparison service you can look at key features of the tariff you wish to select. Including the mix of fuel and its percentage sourced from green sources. The companies offering green tariffs include Ovo, Woodland Trust Energy, Ecotricity, Green Energy, Good Energy, and LoCO2. Although not all of these suppliers offer dual-fuel options, some offer electricity only plans.
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