Verge Grass to Biomass
Lincolnshire, as a typical rural county, possesses approximately 8,750 km (5,500 miles) of highway of which 6,173 km are largely bounded by grass verges. The majority of these verges are within the public highway and Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), as the Local Highways Authority, is required to keep them in a safe and unobstructed condition using a cut and leave flail mowing program.
In 2015 -2016 Peakhill Associates Ltd delivered a Scoping Study on the “Utilization of Anaerobic Digestion to sustain the harvesting of road verge biomass”2 on behalf of Lincolnshire county Council (LCC) that established a protocol for evaluating the possibility of changing the current verge management practice.
Using data from research trials in the UK and across Europe a model was developed that suggested that it could be feasible to economically harvest road verge biomass as an AD feedstock. The model took data from the only UK trial of reasonable scale where road verge biomass had been harvested and offered for anaerobic digestion34. This piece of research concluded that the BMP of the verge grass produced a positive return in terms of energy harvested in relation to energy expended. In theory the Low Input High Diversity (LIHD) biomass resource available from Lincolnshire verges could annually provide sufficient electricity for 4,500 homes or gas for 1,100 homes.
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