Starting later this summer, the UK will achieve a first in biowaste energy: a new plant using brewery waste and local food waste is...

Starting later this summer, the UK will achieve a first in biowaste energy: a new plant using brewery waste and local food waste is set to being producing renewable gas that will be fed back into the country’s national gas grid.

The  £2.75-million plant will also generate gas that can be used as a liquid fuel.

Construction of the Adnams Bio Energy anaerobic digestion plant was announced today.

Later this summer, Adnams — working in partnership with National Grid — will fire up operations at the plant. The facility is expected to generate up to 4.8 million kilowatt-hours of energy annually — enough to heat 235 family homes for a year.

The average UK home uses 56 kilowatt-hours of gas per day, an amount of energy that could be generated from the waste left behind from brewing around 600 pints of  beer. Nationwide, Britons quaff some 28 million pints of beer daily — the waste from brewing that much beer could produce enough biomethane to heat 47,000 homes.

Eventually, the Adnams plant should be able to produce enough renewable gas to power the company’s brewery and run its fleet of lorries, while still leaving up to 60 per cent of the remaining output available for injection back into the national grid.

The facility will use brewery and food waste from local sources to generate biomethane for heating energy and fuel. By diverting waste from landfill, it will also prevent the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

Biomethane is very similar to natural gas. Once it’s upgraded to grid specification, it can be injected into the gas network for end use by customers.  According to a study by National Grid, biomethane could account for at least 15 per cent of domestic gas consumption by 2020.

The Adnams Bio Energy plant features three digesters, which are sealed vessels in which naturally-occurring bacteria act without oxygen to break down up to 12,500 tonnes of organic waste each year. In addition to producing biomethane, the process also yields a liquid organic fertiliser. 

Working with Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, Adnams Bio Energy has also deployed British solar thermal panels at the plan and will shortly install cutting-edge photovoltaic cells on site, in effect creating a mini energy park. The combination of technologies will enable Adnams to generate all the renewable energy it needs on-site with some surplus energy still available for export.

“For a number of years now, Adnams has been investing in ways to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams. “The reality of being able to convert our own brewing waste and local food waste to power our brewery and vehicles, as well as the wider community is very exciting.”

Wood continued, “This facility will have a major impact on the reduction of carbon emissions in the region and the production of renewable energy. The food waste would otherwise be destined for landfill, but processing it through the digester will save an estimated 50,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents from landfill.”

Dan Ilett