Shropshire business processing food waste for energy

Shropshire business Swancote Energy Ltd. operate a state of the art Anaerobic Digestion facility on the outskirts of Bridgnorth.  

The 2.2MW plant produces enough renewable green energy for over 3,000 homes from a combination of food wastes and purpose grown energy crops, currently the annual processing capacity is 38,000 metric tonnes. 

Swancote Energy has a number of clients from across the West Midlands region who send their waste here to avoid landfill charges and help reduce the environmental impact of waste management. The site contains the most up to date equipment available for processing food waste, which includes automated de-packaging machinery.  This gives them a crucial advantage when sourcing waste from retailers as they can accept it as it comes and then separate the food waste from all types of packaging.

Their facility uses the macerated waste to create a “soup” which bubbles away and creates a bio-gas (a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane) and digestate (a nitrogen rich fertiliser). A combined heat and power plant (generator) burns the biogas to create “green” electricity and heat. The electricity is fed directly into the national grid and the heat is used in the process.  The digestate is spread on nearby agricultural land to improve the soil. 

Anaerobic digestion is a process for dealing with organic waste which is sustainable, recovers the maximum energy and is a completely closed system with no emissions to air.  Income is generated through a combination of Feed in Tariffs and sales of electricity into the grid. In addition to this food waste attracts a gate fee as businesses will pay to dispose of it.

Owners Edward and Simon Davies said

“We could see that cost of power was only going to increase over the next 20 years. We realised that the payment tariffs available for AD would provide an alternative source of income for the farm as well as providing clean, renewable energy.”

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James Thompson James Thompson

Waste Prevention Officer, Waste Management, Shropshire Council

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