Biogen Anaerobic Digestion Plants, UK
The full environmental impact of food waste in the UK is colossal. Stopping the waste of good food would avoid 18 million tonnes of CO2 being emitted each year – the equivalent of taking one car in every five in the UK off the road.
Educating people to buy and waste less is one way to ease the problem. The other is to dispose of the waste more intelligently. Biogen, a Bedfordshire-based company, has taken an existing technology, anaerobic digestion (AD), and adapted it for use in an integrated farm based application. Rolton Group has been working with Biogen for several years to develop plants that use this technology to generate low carbon, sustainable energy.
Most recently, Rolton Group have used their civil and structural engineering expertise to assist with the creation of the Merevale AD plant near Atherstone, Warwickshire – Biogen’s seventh AD plant in the UK. This plant was declared officially open by Lord Henry Plumb in September 2016 and will be able to produce 2MW of renewable electricity as well as the by-product of bio-fertiliser.
The Merevale AD plant consists of a new process building with reception, an external hardstanding area and a bunded area of several tanks in which the energy is generated. The foundations of the building are driven steel piles, with associated pile caps and ground beams; the floor slab to the building is concrete which was cast in situ. The Merevale AD plant was awarded the 'Very Good' standard by CEEQUAL in a whole team award for sustainability strategy and performance. Our experience of previous Biogen projects meant the Rolton Group team were able to make significant savings of both time and money to the project.
The first of these projects was located in Westwood, Northamptonshire and Rolton Group worked as energy strategists and advisors to Biogen on the planning application and design process of a new AD plant that became operational in 2009, taking 45,000 tonnes of food waste per year that would otherwise have gone to landfill. The plant generates enough renewable energy to power more than 3,600 homes for a year and creates 34,400 tonnes of bio-fertiliser per year as a by-product that can be used on the arable crops on the adjacent farm fields, reducing the need for inorganic fossil fuel fertilisers.
A subsequent scheme located in Baldock was the first AD plant in the UK to achieve the 'Excellent' standard set by CEEQUAL, which rates sustainability performance. The site became operational in early 2015 and produces 2.2MW of renewable electricity, along with bio-fertiliser that will be used on nearby farmland. The plant takes 45,000 tonnes of food waste each year from supermarkets, food processors, households and the hospitality industry to generate renewable electricity for up to 4,500 homes in Hertfordshire.
Nigel Sheppard, Projects and Commercial Director for Biogen, said:
“The site at Merevale provided specific challenges associated with the ground conditions. To overcome this required a number of engineering solutions to be explored. Roltons worked collaboratively with both Biogen and their civils contractor Toureen to develop and design the most cost effective solution. This collaborative working by the team saw the plant built and commissioned in under a year.”