Bioplex and Controllis: Turning farm waste and sunshine into electricity

Innovative biogas and solar power system provides onsite power from plant and animal waste

Farms and local communities could soon be able to go off-grid, with self-sufficiency in mains electricity and heat thanks to a breakthrough biogas and solar power system.


The self-contained, onsite electricity generating solution uses a mix of solar power alongside biogas made from both plant and animal waste.

The new hybrid system from Bioplex and Controllis could not only reduce or eliminate electricity costs but even provide profits. It will also help the environment and reduce the cost and effort of dealing with waste products from the farm. It even provides fertiliser as an end product.

Chris Reynell, Managing Director of Bioplex, says: "Farmers face a real challenge dealing with both plant and animal waste. It seems crazy just to spread it, whilst losing nutrients to the atmosphere and watercourses, when it can easily be turned into electricity."

He adds that farms by their nature tend to be in rural, often remote locations, so getting a reliable three phase mains supply to the site can be expensive and disruptive. The electricity also often comes with a higher than normal tariff.

"Farmers face higher electricity and fertiliser costs and waste storage and spreading that's subject to more regulations and costs. Bioplex and Controllis have solved both challenges," he says.

Bioplex has pioneered a high throughput system which turns grass and energy crops and a wide range of animal and food waste into natural fertiliser and biogas. The recovered and stabilised fertiliser is re-used on the farm and the biogas generates electricity.

Due to its unique patented design, the Bioplex system occupies a low footprint and offers fast, easy deployment. The digester can use slurry, farmyard and horse stable manure, collected pasture toppings along with crop waste whilst simultaneously controlling parasites, pathogens, weeds and odour and minimising production of excess liquid. The solid and/or liquid natural fertiliser is easy to use, and a major cost saving compared to conventional slurry spreading.

The Bioplex system is typically 20% more efficient at biogas production compared to rival systems, and can easily remove non-fuel generating and damaging materials such as grit and sand. The system can also, uniquely, control biogas production down to a 30-minute period. This provides clean, renewable almost on-demand energy production.

Controllis provides the ultra-efficient, highly reliable hybrid power solution: a biogas powered 12kW DC Genset generator, solar power arrays, battery bank and 75kW AC Mains Inverters. The Controllis system also provides cloud-based remote management and data analytics to enable farmers and landowners to understand, control and optimise system performance.

The on-site power is used to run the farm (such as milking, pasteurisation, lighting, grain drying, cleaning, storage etc) and to provide power to local premises. The system is also metered and can feed back into the mains grid to generate additional revenues.

The unique Controllis generator technology produces electricity much more efficiently than conventional generators, reducing biogas use. The solar arrays contribute to energy production and a dedicated battery provides power when no biogas is being produced. The result is a highly reliable, very cost-effective way to generate power on-site.

Chris Reynell of Bioplex says: "We chose to partner with Controllis because of their innovative approach and ability to efficiently link power generated from biogas with solar, wind and micro hydro - all renewable and low carbon energy sources."

Lance Davidson, Vice President of Engineering at Controllis, adds: "All aspects of the system have been optimised to maximise energy production, recycle farm waste as effectively and efficiently as possible and minimise the impact to the environment. Ultimately, this means that farms can now be self-sufficient, provide their own independent, reliable power, save (and potentially make money on) electricity costs and reduce their carbon footprint."

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