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Hold your horses - those road apples can heat your home

A little-noted passage in the new coalition government programme calls for the use of horse manure as an energy source in Finland. The energy contained in the annual droppings of just three horses can heat a single-family house. The Fortum energy group is already steaming ahead with the development of a system to make it happen.

kolme hevosta vetää tukkeja
Horses are more than oats-fired tractors - they are also potentially a fuel source for heating plants. Image: Yle

The amount of energy contained in the manure produced by three horses in a year is equivalent to the annual heat consumption of a single-family house in Finland. The government programme envisions the large-scale use of horse droppings as a new home-grown energy source.

With this in mind, the Fortum energy group is developing a new bio-fuel using horse manure. It combines a service for stables that delivers a wood-based litter for mixing with fresh manure and picks up the raw fuel. The results of fuel tests carried out in Järvenpää are being described as promising.

"Four stables in Espoo and Kirkkonummi took part in a pilot programme this past spring. This summer and autumn the pilot is being expanded, and the goal is to get dozens of stables involved," explains the commercial manager for Fortum's Horsepower project, Anssi Paalanen.

Innovative back to basics

The new coalition government's programme calls for the use of horse manure ias an energy source in Finland. If a viable venture, the use of horse manure will not only contribute energy, but also help alleviate a growing problem that stables face - what to do with the waste their horses generate.

Beginning next year, horse manure will be among the biodegradable substances banned from disposal at dumps. The more traditional use as fertilizer is also restricted because the law already bans its use on fields that drain into waterways.

Fortum's tests of dried and processed horse manure indicate that it may well find a niche as a supplementary fuel. The company is also looking to export the concept.

"Market prospects are good. There are 360,000 horses in Sweden and 300,000 in Poland," Paalanen notes.

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