Turning Dog Poop into Renewable Energy: Lamppost in England Now Powered by Pet Waste

A streetlamp in Paris Lionel Bonaventure/Getty

A street lamp in England will soon be powered by dog poop, multiple outlets have reported.

The lamp was created by inventor Brian Harper of Malvern Hills, who reportedly was inspired by seeing bags of dog waste left on the street.

The lamp works by extracting gas from the poop. After walking their dog, as a BBC video shows, a person would take a free paper bag and use it to collect their dog's waste. Then, they pop the bag into a chute built into the streetlamp, and rotate a lever that pushes the bag into a biodigester. Once inside, the poop is heated and stirred, causing it to give off biomethane gas, which is collected and then used to power the light.

A streetlamp in the Czech Republic Michael Cizek/Getty

This town in England is not the only place making use of dog poop, let alone animal waste writ large. In Sweden, energy from human waste produced in sewage plants is used to power cars, according to The Guardian. In Waterloo, Ontario, politicians are reportedly considering collecting dog waste from three local parks so biodigesters can convert it into electricity in much the same way as the streetlamp. A representative of the company that makes the containers estimated to the CBC that the fuel collected by one container could power 26 homes per year. A newer estimate from The Guardian suggests the pilot program could power about 13 homes per year. That might not sound like much, but the point of the project is reportedly to avoid environmental contamination from the dog waste people were leaving in the parks.

Biofuel technology is far from the only way companies and governments have tried to recycle energy from everyday life. Wired has previously reported on Pavgen, a company that converts the energy from human footsteps into stored electricity.

But there is still the question of whether these projects are scalable, and if the benefits outweigh the costs. In the case of using dog poop to fuel streetlamps, the point may be more to clear off streets and save the shoes of innocent bystanders, not to mention urban water systems.

A video of Harper demonstrating the lamppost process is available here.