Belgian municipality pioneers energy innovation – with help from farmers

An ERDF-funded project has helped the Belgian municipality of Aiseau-Presles to cut greenhouse gas emissions by turning methane recovered from farmyard manure into a renewable and environmentally friendly energy source.  

Additional tools

Take away by-products of the process can be used as fertiliser.  © Municipality of Aiseau-Presles Take away by-products of the process can be used as fertiliser. © Municipality of Aiseau-Presles

" Local farmers demonstrated their enthusiasm for participating in this project from the outset. Their involvement will provide the agricultural biomass necessary for establishing a proper biogas infrastructure. Of particular interest for the local population will be the development of innovative techniques relating to energy savings and energy sources with no negative impacts on the environment. "

Project coordinator Frédéric Deyonghe, Environmental Advisor, Commune of Aiseau-Presles

In addition to drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels, the establishment of the Walloon region’s first municipal anaerobic digestion plant has created a viable and sustainable revenue stream for local farmers, and led to the creation of two new technical positions to oversee the tanks, welcome and guide farmers and conduct general maintenance tasks across the site.

Building for a sustainable future

The project’s chief objective was to construct an anaerobic (i.e. without oxygen) digestion plant that uses local manure as fuel in order to increase the energy efficiency of a group of municipal buildings. The ERDF-funded project enabled the commune to purchase land, construct the new facility and install the necessary energy supply networks. Building work began on 1 September 2011 and was completed in 2014.

Anaerobic digestion involves the breakdown of organic matter in an anaerobic environment. The bacteria that perform this process release biogas. The new digestion plant converts biomass from farms into energy, generating both electricity and heat. Surplus electricity can be sent to the grid, helping to cover project costs. The plant operates daily and requires 30 tonnes of material each day, while 200 tonnes can be stored permanently onsite.

A win-win situation for farming 

The project has helped to diversify local farming operations. Seven large farms deposit material at the plant – solid and liquid horse, sheep manure, energy crops waste – and in return, take away by-products of the process that can be spread as fertiliser on their fields. 

Setting new standards for public buildings 

As a result of the work carried out, municipal facilities comprising administrative and technical departments and a multi-purpose hall – all located at the same site – now receive around 70 % of their annual heating needs from the new facility, setting an environmental and cost-effective example to other municipalities. 

The project has given Aiseau-Presles – a semi-rural community only 15 km from the city of Charleroi – a reputation as a ‘green municipality’, which has led to requests for visits from other Walloon municipalities, schools and policy experts.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Biométhanisation - Aiseau-Presles” is EUR 3 768 615, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 507 446 from the Operational Programme “Wallonia (Hainaut)” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.  

Draft date