Poultry litter fuels new Dutch power plant

By Erin Voegele
Dutch utility company Delta NV began operating its biomass power plant fueled by poultry litter in Moerdijk, Netherlands, on Sept. 3. The 36.5-megawatt-per-year facility is the first commercial-scale power plant in Europe to utilize poultry litter on a large scale.

The facility is expected to convert 440,000 metric tons (490,000 tons) of poultry litter into more than 207 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, absorbing approximately one-third of Netherlands' excess manure stocks. According to Peter Couwenberg, Delta's press officer, the facility will produce enough electricity to power approximately 90,000 homes annually.

Duurzame Energieproductie Pluimveehouderij, a cooperative association of 629 poultry farmers, will supply litter to the facility. Approximately 70 percent of the litter is expected to be sourced from the southern part of the Netherlands. Couwenberg said the country's poultry industry produces approximately 1.2 million metric tons (1.3 million tons) of poultry litter annually. Before the power plant was built, 800,000 metric tons (882,000 tons) of the product had to be exported each year for processing, an expensive process.

DEP will deliver poultry litter to the power plant, where it will be incinerated to produce steam, which will power a turbine, creating electricity. Gases released by the incineration
process will be purified before they are released into the atmosphere. Ash material rich in phosphorus and potassium is created as a byproduct of the production process, and sold for use as fertilizer.

Construction of the power plant began in August 2006. The facility cost 150 million ($207 million) to construct and employs a staff of 25. Delta owns 50 percent of the facility. The remaining ownership is divided among DEP, Austrian Energy and Environment AG, and ZLTO, an organization representing the interests of 190,000 farmers and horticulturists in the Netherlands provinces of North Brabant, Zeeland and Gelderland.