EPA lays out plan for biogas plants

WASTE NOT::The agency called for cooperation between local governments and hog farmers to decide where the plants for converting waste into biogas should be built

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 07, 2012 - Page 4

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) is planning to set up at least two centers that will collect pig waste and extract biogas to generate electricity and produce fertilizer in the next five years.

Council of Agriculture statistics released in May showed that the nation has about 6.18 million pigs, 85 percent of which are being raised in six counties in central and southern Taiwan, including several areas where the rivers are undergoing rehabilitation.

Wang Yeuh-bin (王嶽斌), a senior technical specialist with the EPA’s Department of Water Quality Protection, said the agency has been pushing hog farms to install “pig toilets” — to train pigs to defecate at a fixed location to make it easier to gather the waste — and this has reduced water usage by 48 percent and labor power by 35 percent at these farms.

As of September, a total of 15,000 pig toilets had been installed nationwide, gathering waste from about 375,000 pigs every day, Wang said.

The collected waste goes through a traditional three-phase livestock wastewater treatment process, Wang said.

“Pigs mostly feed on soybeans or corn, which are not completely absorbed by their bodies. The organic matter in their waste can be used to produce fertilizer,” he said.

The EPA said the nation could learn from other countries such as Denmark, the UK, Germany and New Zealand, which have developed treatment plants that use biogas produced by livestock and organic wastes to produce organic fertilizer, fuel or electricity.

Taking Denmark’s Ribe Biogas Plant and the UK’s Holsworthy Biogas Plant as examples, Wang said the agency is planning to provide a subsidy of about 10 percent of the plant’s initial planning fee to encourage local governments to submit project plans.

Biogas plants should be located within 5km to 10km from where pig wastes are gathered, so it would be better for local governments to discuss with pig farmers or farmers’ associations to decide where the plants should be built, he added.

The EPA promulgated a project subsidy review standards last month and plans to choose the best and most practical plan submitted, with an aim of completing at least two plants in five years.