Grass cuttings used to produce electricity

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Media captionThe cuttings are turned to power in an anaerobic digester

Grass cuttings from roadside verges are being used in a pilot scheme to generate electricity.

Lincolnshire County Council is using a special machine to cut and collect grass cuttings ready for anaerobic digestion.

Delegates from councils across the country have been to see how this pilot scheme works.

The scheme is monitoring biogas yields, biodiversity impacts and the costs of harvesting grass in this way.

The cuttings are taken to a biomass plant at Scrivelsby near Horncastle and used as fuel.

Ultimately if the pilot scheme is successful the council could get up to 10 of these machines. The council has about 4,000 miles of grass verge to maintain.

'We sell electricity'

Dr Nick Cheffins, who helps oversee the trial, said: "It could be a renewable power source.

"We sell electricity to the grid and use the heat also produced for various agricultural processes".

The scheme was looking to get enough data to produce a "tool-kit" for other interested councils, he added.

Image caption The grass is collected to eventually produce electricity

What is anaerobic digestion?

  • It is a process by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen.
  • Organic material such as manure, crops, grass or slurry is put into large containers
  • Once this material breaks down it produces biogas such as methane
  • The methane can be converted and fed into the National Grid

Councillor Richard Davies said: "This is a first for a local authority.

"It's early days, but we think it's worth testing it out in the real world."

Mr Davies said removing the cuttings from the verges helped to protect wildflower growth and slow down the rate of grass growth.

"It makes sense from both an environmental and economic point of view", he said.

Mark Schofield of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust said the scheme could "throw a lifeline to grass land" and change the way grass verges were managed.

The scheme is been run with support from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and Leeds University.

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