New kind of HorsePower in energy generation

Blog - Published 3.2.2016


Horse industry has talked about using horse manure in energy generation for years. Usually talks and plans have focused on local small scale solutions. As EU legislation requires that one must apply requirements of waste incineration small scale plans have not been materialised.

We started to study potential of horse manure in Fortum two years ago. The idea came from home as my wife is an active rider. Bedding and manure handling are a constant headache for many stable owners. It was clear that there is demand for new solutions. Fortum HorsePower project was born.

Fortum HorsePower project was part of an internal start-up program in Fortum. Being part of the program has ensured that development of the HorsePower concept has been fast and efficient. We have been able to take more risks and to proceed in much faster pace than would have been possible without the program.

We have co-operated closely with stable owners and stable workers. Before we had anything to sell we spent time with potential customers to find out what they would value. Many aspects of the concept are results of this co-operation. It feels good to know that a large share of the stables that helped us to shape the concept wanted also to be our customers.

Before we had a service to sell we tested manure collection with different methods, combustion characteristics and feeding to plant fuel system. The start-up model allowed us to test many things in small scale and to iterate the concept towards more viable products.

A group photo.
From the left: Jouni Heikkinen, Heli Antila, satisfied customer and Anssi Paalanen.

It took many iterations to design a concept that Fortum HorsePower is now. A concept that is both a bedding and manure management service for horse stables as well as solid bio fuel product to power and heat generation. The service for the stables covers bedding delivery and manure pick-up. Stables can choose from three different bedding materials and they pay based on their bedding consumption.

Now Fortum HorsePower is at a commercial pilot phase. The service is used by 87 stables having over 1500 horses. The manure is used in combined heat and power plant in Järvenpää in Southern Finland  with very high efficiency (over 90 %) . Horse manure is a good addition to Järvenpää fuel mix as plant uses mostly wood based solid biomasses . The amount of generated energy is already significant. The manure of 1500 horses provides energy for 750 single-family homes in a year.

The pace in the project has been fast and we have encountered all kinds of practical issues. We have even fished horse shoes out of manure. The first four have been nailed on the wall of Järvenpää control room. Also the freezing temperatures did cause some additional headaches but  at the same time provided loads of valuable winter experience. All in all we have not encountered any major issues. Some rough edges are part of creating anything new. In general we have received a lots of positive feedback.

Currently ongoing test phase is slowly closing to an end. We have applied for permanent environmental licence and we are confident that we will be using horse manure in Järvenpää also after the current test phase. We are already planning to expand  the concept elsewhere in Finland and Europe. There are six million horses in Europe. They provide quite a lot of manure – there will be enough for large scale and widespread energy use as well as for fertiliser use.


Anssi Paalanen is commercial manager of Fortum HorsePower concept.


More information (in finnish)


Tags: bioenergy, blog

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