13 April 2016

Green energy to be generated from cheese at the UK's largest on-site dairy AD plant in Cumbria

One of the UK's largest cheese creameries, First Milk, has announced the completion of the first on-site Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in the European dairy industry which will feed bio-methane to the national gas grid.  The new plant will supply up to 25% of the First Milk creamery’s energy requirements.

The £10m project has been designed and built for Lake District Biogas which will operate the AD plant for two years, taking feedstock from First Milk’s Aspatria creamery site in Cumbria.  Commissioned by British on-site treatment solutions provider Clearfleau, the facility will produce more than £3m in cost savings and revenue per annum.

When the plant is operating at full capacity later this spring, it will treat 1,650m3 per day of process waste and generate around 5MW of thermal energy exclusively by digesting cheese making residues. The plant will generate 1000m3 of biogas per hour, of which over 80% will be upgraded for injection into the national grid.  Revenue benefits will include 20-year index-linked, government-backed incentives from the Feed-in Tariff (£1m) and Renewable Heat Incentive (£2m), while the system will also help reduce waste management costs.

Lake District Biogas chairman Gordon Archer hailed the completion of this £10m project on time as a major achievement for the project team, given the adverse weather conditions in Cumbria this winter.  He said that Lake District Biogas invested in the plant because they believe that energy from bio-products and residues most efficiently generate green power, and in this case green gas. The company is saving significant amounts of carbon because the product is no longer being shipped as it was previously.  It is utilised on-site within yards of where it was created and is creating gas which then goes back to the source. It’s a perfect virtuous cycle where all of the bio-products are used on site, with all the clean water sourced locally.

First Milk’s announcement is a welcome case of waste reduction in the dairy sector - an industry which accounts for 4% of global emissions due, in part, to the methane produce by cows and the energy and land-use associated with keeping them.

In December 2015, edie reported that ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's is introducing a non-dairy alternative that will result in 40% lower emissions during the production process compared with its traditional ice cream equivalents.  The company has its’ own on-site AD plant.

Food recycler ReFood has begun work on its brand new £32m AD plant in Dagenham this week. The state-of-the-art gas to grid (G2G) facility will be capable of recycling 160,000 tonnes of food waste each year and will generate more than 2,000 m3/hr of methane gas. The use of G2G technology will enable natural gas to be injected directly into the national gas grid and used to power more than 10,000 homes across the region.

Source: edie

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