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How Finland Could Turn Horse Poop Into Power

A Finnish company is experimenting with using horse manure as fuel for biomass energy production.
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Finland is currently experimenting with a radical new fuel source—horse poop. Right now, Finnish energy company Fortum is conducting trials using horse manure and wood-chip bedding as fuel for biomass energy production. According to the company, using horses as a fuel source is a concept that has real legs. The manure and bedding of just three horses can provide heat and light for a single-family home for a full year. Bear in mind that we’re talking about homes in Finland here, where a cool climate means heating systems are used more intensively than the European average. This means that many horse-loving countries are unwittingly sitting on a big, stinking pile of untapped green energy, just waiting to be exploited.

The process, still in development, works like this. Fortum provides stables with horse bedding made out of wood shavings, which are themselves a waste products of Finland’s large timber industry. The horses poop in their stalls and Fortum returns to gather the soiled bedding, spreading it briefly in a field until it retains a uniform level of moisture throughout. Then the manure is taken to a biomass power plant (Finland currently has six) where it is mixed with the wood shavings that are the plant’s normal fuel source.