Poo power: Horse manure from World Cup powers Helsinki homes

(Reuters) - Horse power has a different meaning at the Helsinki International Horse Show as the electricity needs for the FEI World Cup Jumping qualifiers comes entirely from horse manure.

More than 100 tons of manure from 370 horses was used to create 150 megawatt hours of energy that not only provided electricity for the four-day event but also heated homes in the Finnish capital.

The event has generated its own electricity from manure -- used to power lights, scoreboards and even charging stations -- for the fifth year in a row thanks to a manure-to-energy system developed by the aptly named Fortum HorsePower.

“The manure-to-energy system holds immense potential for countries with large horse populations,” Fortum HorsePower vice president Anssi Paalanen said.

“(It) has shown that out-of-the-box solutions are needed if we are to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels.

“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.”

Since the system was installed in 2015, around 70,000 tons of manure have been collected, providing heat to 1,250 customers and electricity to the national power grid.

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“The use of horse manure to produce electricity on such a large scale is unique to the FEI event in Helsinki,” a spokeswoman told Reuters.

“But at the FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg (Sweden) in April, horse manure was also burned on a small scale to produce electrical energy.”

FEI President Ingmar De Vos said the initiative was proof that the equestrian community is serious about the environment.

“The manure-to-energy system has demonstrated that ideas for alternate energy solutions can come from the most unexpected places,” De Vos said.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge