Completion of the first renewable gas to grid AD plant

Adnams Bio Energy Limited and British Gas announce the completion of the construction phase of a groundbreaking anaerobic digestion (AD) plant

Adnams Bio Energy Limited and British Gas today announce the completion of the construction phase of a groundbreaking anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, which will be the first in the UK to use brewery and local food waste to produce renewable gas for injection into the national gas grid as well as providing gas for use as a vehicle fuel.

In partnership with National Grid, the facility will start injecting renewable gas into the gas grid later this summer. It will generate up to 4.8 million kilowatt-hours per year - enough to heat 235 family homes for a year or run an average family car for 4 million miles. In the future the facility will produce enough renewable gas to power the Adnams brewery and run its fleet of lorries, while still leaving up to 60 per cent of the output for injection into the National Grid.

By using brewery and local food waste to generate biomethane, the plant will make a contribution to decarbonising the gas grid by delivering renewable heat to households through the existing gas network and central heating boilers. It will also prevent the release of highly-polluting methane to the atmosphere, through diverting the waste from landfill.

Biomethane is produced from organic material such as food waste. It is very similar to natural gas and, once upgraded to grid specification, can be injected into the gas network for end use by customers. According to a study by National Grid, it could account for at least 15 per cent of domestic gas consumption by 2020.

The Adnams Bio Energy plant consists of three digesters - sealed vessels in which naturally-occurring bacteria act without oxygen to break down up to 12,500 tonnes of organic waste each year. The result is the production of biomethane as well as a liquid organic fertiliser.

In addition, following an agreement with Centrica - the parent company of British Gas, Adnams Bio Energy has deployed British solar thermal panels and will shortly install cutting edge photo voltaic cells, which will in effect create a mini energy park.The deal will ensure that all of the site, including the Adnams Distribution Centre, will be using renewable energy generated on-site with some surplus energy available for export. This is another groundbreaking feature for the facility.

Funds from RBS in Cambridge and grants from the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF), East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have provided a vital financial contribution to the construction of this groundbreaking renewable energy facility on the Adnams Distribution Centre Site.

Cambridge-based Bio Group specialises in renewable energy and has a vast amount of experience in design and construction of processing plants across the UK. Steve Sharratt, Group Chief Executive said: "This facility has been designed using our groundbreaking technology as the first stage of a national roll out of AD plants. We use innovative, low carbon building techniques to produce energy through a completely organic and natural process; nothing is wasted."

Chief Executive of Adnams, Andy Wood said: "We are delighted that Adnams Bio Energy is located on the site of our eco-distribution centre. For a number of years now, Adnams has been investing in ways to reduce our impact on the environment. 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.

"The industrial ecology cycle is completed when the fertiliser produced from the anaerobic digestion process can be used on farmland to grow barley for Adnams beer. 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."

Gearóid Lane, Managing Director of Communities and New Energy at British Gas, said: "This project demonstrates how local communities can help us move to a low carbon energy future. Using waste that would otherwise end up in landfill to produce renewable gas is mutually beneficial for the environment and homes and businesses".

Having completed the main construction stage of the Adnams Bio Energy plant commissioning is now in progress.

Key facts

The project will be the first in the UK to use brewery and local food waste to produce renewable gas for injection into the national gas grid.

  • The average home uses 56 kWh/day gas, which requires the waste from brewing approximately 600 pintsbeer to produce.
  • The average home uses 20,500 kWh gas/year. The facility will provide enough gas for 235 homes per year.
  • 28m pints of beer a day are consumed across the UK. If all of the associated waste was used to produce biomethane, it would produce enough renewable gas to heat 47,000 homes.
  • The development costs are £2.75m
  • Adnams Bio Energy (ABE) is wholly owned by the Bio Group, Adnams has licensed its brand name and is providing feedstock.