Berkshire-based anaerobic digestion (AD) firm Clearfleau said that subsidised support for on-site facilities at smaller food production businesses could lead to an expansion across Europe.
Dairy firm First Milk recently launched an on-site AD plant at its creamery in Aspatria, Cumbria. The scheme, which is being hailed as the largest of its kind in Europe, was developed by Lake District Biogas and built by Clearfleau.
It will produce 1,000cu m of biogas an hour, 80% of which will be upgraded for injection into the national grid. The biomethane produced will be used for heating the creamery, local businesses and homes.
The plant is receiving around £2m through the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidy, along with £1m through Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) subsidies because gas is sold at a guaranteed price to the wholesale market.
Clearfleau marketing director Richard Gueterbock has previously argued for continued Government subsidies to stimulate decentralised energy generation at UK food production facilities.
Writing for MRW, Gueterbock said: “The plant cost more than £9m, with a payback in less than five years, and it will cut fossil fuel consumption on the site. It also saves First Milk the £3m cost of replacing its ageing effluent treatment plant.
“The funding mechanism used by Lake District Biogas can be used by smaller companies that frequently lack the funds available for sustainability projects in companies such as Nestle or Diageo.
“The Aspatria plant is an effective demonstration of the circular economy, reducing carbon emissions and generating renewable energy. This proven on-site digestion process can manage process residues, and the approach could extend across Europe’s food and drink sector.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is consulting on proposed changes to both the RHI and FiT schemes. In his Budget in March, chancellor George Osborne outlined a plan to increase funding for the RHI to £1.15bn by 2020-21 from £430m for 2015-16.
- Read Richard Gueterbock’s article in the 7 May issue of MRW