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02 Aug 2011 11:08:28

Dorset dairy will run on energy distilled from food waste

Food waste from the production of cream, milk and fermented dairy products such as soft cheese and yogurt will be recycled to create enough energy to power most of the production process at BV Dairy in Dorset.

The facility – which received £1.7m from the AD Demonstration Programme – was recently opened by Bob Walter, MP for North Dorset.

The plant, which was designed and built by Clearfleau, is capable of processing 80,000 tonnes of waste each year. This will provide the majority of the electricity used in the manufacturing process at the dairy, which churns out 15,000 tonnes of dairy products each year for the food service and food manufacturing sectors. This is achieved by sending the biogas to a combined heat and power engine, designed, supplied and operated by ENER-G.

At times surplus electricity created will be exported to the national grid. Heat generated by the facility is used in the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, and excess will be used in heating and cleaning processes in the factory, and in the cheese making process. The solid digestate will be used on local grassland. This bio-fertiliser is high in valuable nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements required for healthy plant growth and fertile soil.

Previously the unavoidable waste material – washwater from the factory, permeate/whey from cheese making and other dairy rich liquids – were treated at the local sewage works, but treating the waste onsite reduces the company’s sewer disposal costs and generates renewable energy for use in the dairy.

The BV Dairy project is based on British know-how and technology that meets the requirements of the food sector. ENER-G supports Clearfleau with the design and delivery process of power integration and heat utilisation for clients that are integrating a proposed AD system within their manufacturing process.

At BV Dairy the ENER-G 190kWe CHP system is capable of generating 1,539 MW of electricity and 1,685 MW of heat per annum from effluent, dramatically reducing the dairy's reliance on fossil fuels. ENER-G has considerable experience of building, operating and financing major biogas projects across the UK and Europe with over 150 biogas plants on anaerobic digestion, sewage sludge digestion, coal mine methane, coal bed methane and landfill methane recovery. The CHP system is being hired from ENER-G for a two year period, prior to capital purchase.

Jim Highnam, managing director at BV Dairy said: "We are proud to be pioneers in AD for the UK food industry. The BV Dairy AD plant demonstrates that the technology works and, judging by the interest in our plant from food manufacturers, we expect to see many more companies using AD to generate renewable energy from unavoidable food waste."

Mr Walter, MP for North Dorset said: "I have always maintained that micro-generation of our energy needs is one of the best and simplest ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint at the local level, whilst minimising any negative impact on our beautiful environment. It is vital that companies take responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint and I applaud BV Dairy for taking the initiative. This local company is, quite rightly, committed to driving down the amount of waste they produce and have my full backing."

Marcus Gover, director of the Closed Loop Economy at WRAP believes the market, including investors, developers and end users, should be confident of AD as a reliable, safe and profitable resource efficiency process. He said: "With industry and DEFRA, WRAP has taken significant steps to de-risk the technology, developed robust tools to help break down the barriers and facilitate confidence at all stages of the process.

"AD is a growing part of the resource efficiency solution, capable of creating renewable energy, and stimulating the green economy and improving the sustainability of commercial agriculture. We really see it as huge opportunity for the UK."

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