Powered by poo: horse manure heats and lights four-day World Cup show

The Helsinki International Horse Show, including the showjumping World Cup qualifier, was entirely powered by horse poo, for the fifth year in a row.

More than 100 tonnes of manure collected from horses competing at the four-day event, which finished yesterday (27 October) generated over 150 megawatt hours of energy.

This was enough to power the entire event, including all lighting and heating, with the excess going into the Finnish national grid to heat local homes.

“The manure-to-energy system holds immense potential for countries with large horse populations and has shown that out-of-the-box solutions are needed if we are to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Anssi Paalanen, vice-president of Fortum HorsePower, which specialises in electricity generation, heat production and waste recycling.

“It’s possible to charge a phone with only 0.2 decilitres of horse manure and the manure produced daily by two horses can generate heat for a single family home for a year.”

The show’s “Helsinki Jumps Green” initiative, which aims to make the event the most environmentally friendly horse show in the world, also features recycling and reduction schemes and sustainable food provision.

“As event organisers it’s our responsibility to create partnerships with local industry to make sustainable sporting events a real possibility and not just a nice-to-have,” said event director Tom Gordin.

“Our vision is to become the worldwide leader for sustainability in equestrian events. We know from first-hand experience that this takes commitment and dedication, but the end results are so worth it. We are proud to work with Fortum and to be part of the renewable energy solution.”

The manure system also provides a way of dealing with muck disposal in a country with strict controls on using horse manure as fertiliser and its disposal in landfill.

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Fortum provides stables with horse bedding made from sustainable wood shavings. Collected manure is delivered to plants around Finland, where it is used to produce green energy. Some 70,000 tons has been collected since the manure-to-energy system was launched in 2015.

“The system has demonstrated that ideas for alternate energy solutions can come from the most unexpected places,” said FEI president Ingmar De Vos. “The Helsinki initiatives make a tremendous contribution, not just in terms of the value they deliver to equestrian sport, but also for the wider implications they have for local and regional communities. It clearly shows that the equestrian community is serious about its responsibility to preserve the environment.”

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