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Gridless Biodigester in Wales

image credit: ID 58940875 © Dragi52 |

The United Kingdom has pledged to be carbon free by 2050. That’s an ambitious goal, and while the country has already made some progress on the matter, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Coal is quickly being phased out and investments in wind and solar have increased, but to truly become carbon free the island (and Northern Ireland) will have to decarbonize building emissions. Such a process will likely be quite disruptive to many households. 

One British family, however, has decided to give up fossil fuels with or without the government’s prodding. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently did a report on the Watkinsons, a family of four that moved to rural Wales to live off the grid. They named their terrain “Beeview Farm” after the bees they keep to produce and sell honey. The farm is so far removed from civilization that it can only be accessed by 4x4, or through some serious hiking. 

The house itself is big, being made up of numerous recycled caravans, horse boxes and trailers. Most importantly, however, the structure is completely powered by renewables. In addition to using solar panels, the Watkinsons turn their own food waste into energy suitable for various purposes. How do they do that? They use Biff, the name of their homemade biodigester. 

Mathew, the father, explained it to the BBC: ‘''What we've essentially got is an artificial cow stomach, full of the normal bugs from a cow's stomach, and we are just feeding those bugs," Matthew explains. "And those bugs are turning what we feed it into methane."’

Pretty neat if you ask me. Maybe the rest of Britain will have to make similar sacrifices (if you can call them that) if the nation hopes to meet their 2050 target. In any case, some kind of big changes will have to be made.

Henry Craver's picture

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 26, 2019 8:07 pm GMT

I've seen some consumer directed biodigesters and I must say I'm intrigued by the ability to personally take some more carbon footprint away. The tech alone won't be a climate solver by any means, of course, but it's a fun idea for energy/science enthusiasts and is a great thought. Not sure I can get my wife on board for "an artificial cow stomach, full of the normal bugs from a cow's stomach" in the backyard though..

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