Sunday, 19 June 2011

The giant 'anaerobic digesters' that will convert our slop buckets to electricity

They are set to divide our communities as efficiently as they break down our waste.

Huge ‘anaerobic digester’ plants the size of two football pitches will be built across Britain as a multi-million-pound industry develops to convert waste food scraps into usable electricity.

Fuelled by the Government’s drive to introduce kitchen slop buckets in every home, the units can transform 120,000 tons of scraps into six megawatts of power, enough to power 6,000 homes 24 hours a day.
Critics call them unsightly and smelly, but those in favour regard them as the ‘future of waste’.

Last week, rubbish disposal giant Biffa opened the country’s first ‘super’ £24 million plant in Cannock, Staffordshire, and the £800 million company is planning more.

Biffa chief executive Ian Wakelin said: ‘I am a man in a hurry. Over the next few years I would like to see these really large plants around London, the North-East, the South-West and the West. This is the future of waste. It is taking food that could once only be sent to landfill and turning it into something of value on a truly industrial scale.’

The Cannock plant, whose 60ft containers tower over the landscape, is based on an existing landfill site.

Spread over several acres, it includes a vast storage shed in which lorries can unload the waste, pipes to carry the methane gas it produces, and a balloon to store gas.

Cannock gets much of its waste from local restaurants, nightclubs and pubs, but increasingly such plants will use leftover food scraped by householders into ‘kitchen caddies’ for separate roadside collection.
The Government is pushing the fledgling industry because it is required by European legislation to reduce its use of landfill sites.

The Environment Department predicts the industry could produce enough energy for nearly a million homes within a decade.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Redesdale, chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, said the industry would bring down gas prices by making Britain less reliant on imported gas.

He said: ‘It’s a big ask but the Germans managed to build 1,000 new plants in ten years. This is not new technology. We are building on what is already out there.’

full article

No comments: