Cow manure powers BMW Rosslyn plant

BMW South Africa received the first green energy at its Rosslyn plant in Pretoria on 10 October 2015. The plant received energy generated from renewable sources such as cattle manure and mixture of organic waste. By Staff Writer


Last year, BMW signed power purchasing agreement with energy company Bio2Watt. Through this agreement, between 25% and 30% of BMW Plant Rosslyn’s electricity requirements will now be generated from renewable sources.

The BMW South Africa / Bio2Watt renewable energy partnership is the first commercially viable biogas project.

The Bio2Watt biogas plant in Bronkhorstspruit is located on the premises of one of South Africa’s larger feedlots (Beefcor) and an agricultural stronghold in Gauteng.

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The Bio2Watt biogas plant in Bronkhorstspruit

The location provides the project with proximity to key fuel supplies; grid access and sufficient water supplied by Beefcor’s storm water collection dams. The City of Tshwane is also a key supplier of waste to the project.

The biogas process relies on organic waste, which is directed into a digester where biogas is produced and then goes into a gas engine to produce electricity. This is inserted into the power grid for uptake by power purchasers like BMW.

At the Bronkhorstspruit biogas plant, about 40 000 tons per annum of cattle manure and a further 20 000 tons of mixed organic waste is fed into two anaerobic digesters that produce the biogas feedstock for a combined heat and power application.

Tim Abbott, managing director of BMW Group South Africa, said that there is a plan to transition the company’s production facilities to be powered by 100 percent from renewable sources by the year 2020.

“We have increased the share of renewable energy as a percentage of total power consumed by the BMW Group to an impressive 51% in 2014. Our vision is to draw 100% of our energy requirements from renewable sources with the help of partners such as Bio2Watt.”

Converting organic waste into electrical energy primarily for digester heating purposes is a well proven technology, which has gained further traction worldwide as the swing to renewable energy alternatives gains momentum and becomes price competitive with organic forms of energy generation.

The technology enables a reduction in the volumes of waste to landfill, thus helping local municipalities to meet their zero-waste commitments.

“It will create localised employment opportunities for low skilled work force essentially around the waste collection and sorting in both rural and peri-urban areas. There are about four million cattle in South Africa, a significant number of which are held on large farms and the potential for project replication is thus substantial,” said Sean Thomas, CEO of Bio2Watt.

Bio2Watt is establishing more anaerobic digestion projects in South Africa. Construction of the second project will begin in Malmesbury, Western Cape, in 2016. Additional farms are sought for partnerships.

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