The £8mn deal paves the wave for the region’s first commercial food waste AD facility, which will use food waste to generate renewable energy and fertiliser. The deal was arranged by the corporate finance team at chartered accountants UNW and supported by commercial law firm Ward Hadaway. The finance is being provided by HSBC, WRAP (a not-for-profit company backed by government funding) and the Rural Development Programme for England.
The Emerald Biogas project already has planning permission and in the first phase will process up to 53,000 tonnes of food waste collected from outlets across the region annually. All traces of plastic, glass and metal are removed before pasteurising the waste to meet stringent regulations. The waste is then transferred to large digestion tanks where the AD process takes place. “Millions of bacteria feed on the organic fraction of the waste to produce a methane rich biogas, which can then be used for heating or to produce electricity,” explains Emerald Biogas.
The 1.4MW AD plant will produce enough electricity to power almost 2000 homes. The excess heat generated during the process will be used across the industrial estate where the facility will be located, which Emerald Biogas says was a key factor when selecting the location at Aycliffe Industrial Estate. “It was vital that the energy produced would be fully utilised and this was the rationale for an industrial location as opposed to a rural site.” In addition to the energy generated, the resultant digestate, which is high in nutrients, will be supplied to land owners within a ten-mile radius.
“Emerald Biogas is the first commercial plant of this size in the region and we are delighted to have secured the funding and support to realise the project,” said Antony Warren, director, Emerald Biogas. Fellow director Ian Bainbridge added: “The project has been underway for some time now and to have secured the funding is testament to the commercial viability and the need for such a facility in the North East. We expect the AD plant to be up and running in mid 2013 and have ambitious targets in terms of further energy production capacity.”