With an escalating population and industrial scale food and drink production increasing world-wide, organic waste has become a significant environmental challenge in recent decades – both in terms of the added burden on landfill and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.
Located near Southwold in Suffolk, Adnams Bio Energy Ltd is a unique joint venture between renewable energy company Bio Group and major regional brewer Adnams plc, which has resulted in the development of a ground-breaking energy park to address the issue of organic waste head on.
Anaerobic digestion, where micro-organisms work in an oxygen free environment to break down organic material such as food waste, is a process that dates back to the 19th century when amongst other things, it was used to generate gas from a septic tank for a type of gas lamp. The potential environmental benefits to modern society however, have only become more of a reality in recent years with the number of plants dedicated to this purpose increasing over the last decade.
As Bio Group Chief Executive, Steve Sharratt explains: “Anaerobic digestion is a win-win process in that it deals with the problem of what to do with our large amounts of food waste, much of which would go to landfill producing greenhouse gas emissions, whilst simultaneously producing a much-needed renewable energy source in the form of bio-methane. Until recently, prohibitive capital costs and protracted processing times have led to limited commercial viability but we have been working hard to change this.”
Bio Group spent five years on research and development work to produce their latest anaerobic digestion technology, which is at the heart of the Adnams Bio Energy facility.
Steve continues: “As government and commercial organisations alike are seeking ways to deliver against environmental targets, we are able to offer a workable solution. Our developments in the field of anaerobic digestion have resulted in increased efficiency which ultimately leads to this becoming a more viable energy alternative moving forward.”
In fact, the Adnams Bio Energy facility was developed specifically with maximising the opportunities for this energy alternative, in mind. Conceived in partnership Adnams plc and working closely with National Grid and British Gas, the park is the first facility built with the explicit goal of putting green gas back into the grid system. In order to achieve this, the bio-methane gas must be cleaned to a purity level of 98% to be fed into the grid.
“We are really excited about the capabilities of the plant to contribute renewable energy on this scale; our next step is to install the specialist equipment necessary to bring the quality of the gas in line with grid expectations”, adds Steve.
To assist with the purchase and installation of the latest gas upgrade equipment, Adnams Bio Energy has been successful in obtaining a £100,000 Regional Growth Loan from the team at Finance East.
Stuart Ager, Senior Fund Manager at Finance East comments: “Adnams Bio Energy have displayed an impressive commitment to furthering developments in sustainability whilst concurrently demonstrating a commercially viable business model. We are delighted to be supporting a project with such tangible benefits to the wider community.”