A new state-of-the-art food waste plant has opened in County Durham, which will serve the north east’s need to recycle food waste and create renewable energy.
Emerald Biogas said its new anaerobic digestion (AD) plant is now open for business, making it the “first” first commercial food waste facility in the region to begin operating.
The plant is based on Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate and cost £8m to build. It expects to generate enough energy to power 2,000 homes each year.
The successful installation of the combined heat and power (CHP) system and other plant equipment has enabled the testing phase to be completed on time and the plant is now processing food waste and creating energy.
It will process waste supplied from local authorities, food manufacturers and retailers from Northumberland down to York and across to Cumbria.
Antony Warren, director of Emerald Biogas said: “It is fantastic to see it up and running, as this truly is a one-of-a-kind facility in the North East and the first in the region to begin operating.
“We are now in the position to accept and process unwanted commercial food waste and employ the latest AD technology to create a valued commodity that will be extremely beneficial to the local business and farming community.”
Phase 1 of the plant will process 50,000 tonnes of the region’s food waste. Planning permission has already been secured to expand the capacity to four times the current size.
In addition to power generation, a digestate will be spread onto local farmland, which will increase organic matter as well as improving soil condition and structure.
Used as an alternative to chemically manufactured fertilisers, the nutrients not only provide an economic benefit to farmers but also can increase the yield of their crops and reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.
The funding for the project was made available through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.