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Helsinki horse riding event powered by horse manure

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Helsinki International Horse Show in Finland powered its event entirely on horse manure. It is the fifth year in a row that all electricity used at the event, which hosted the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping qualifier, was generated from 100% horse manure.

Over 150 megawatt-hours of energy was created from the 100 tonnes of manure collected from competing horses during the four-day event. International energy company, Fortum, developed the manure-to-energy system which provided power for lighting, scoreboards and mobile phone charging stations. The surplus energy generated went back into the national grid to heat homes in the Helsinki area.

“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 fossil fuels,” said Fortum HorsePower vice-president, Anssi Paalanen.

Helsinki International Horse Show event director Tom Gordin added: “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.”

Electricity from horse manure is just one of many initiatives under the ‘Helsinki Jumps Green’ environmental concept that aims to make the event ‘the most ecological horse show in the world’. Other initiatives include recycling and paper reduction, using environmentally-friendly procurement practices and sustainable food consumption.

Fortum’s system has also provided a way of dealing with waste at stables in a country with strict controls on the use of horse manure as a fertiliser, and the disposal of manure in landfill sites. The company provides stables with horse bedding made from sustainable wood shavings, sourced in Finland. The manure that is collected from the stables is then delivered to plants around the country to produce energy.

Approximately 70,000 tonnes of manure have been collected from horses in stables across Finland since the manure-to-energy system started in 2015. The power and heat plant in Jarvenpaa, just outside Helsinki, provides heat to around 1,250 customers in the area, as well as electricity for the national grid.

Ingmar De Vos, president of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, said: “The manure-to-energy system has demonstrated that ideas for alternate energy solutions can come from the most unexpected places. 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.”