Calls for a landfill ban on food waste amid the tough climate for financing large scale anaerobic digestion (AD) projects were raised at the official opening of Agrivert’s £11million West London AD facility.
Situated at Trumps Farm near Chertsey in Surrey, the plant will process around 45,000 tonnes of food and liquid waste each year from households and businesses across Surrey and Hertfordshire.
The development is a joint venture with Oxfordshire-based Grundon Waste Management, which has invested £5million pounds for a 15% stake in the facility.
It marks the first time Grundon has invested in an AD facility and the firm will supply the Agrivert plant with household and business food waste, with the facility’s capacity enabling Grundon to “expand its food waste collection service to a wider customer base”.
In addition, Agrivert’s contracts to provide food waste from household collections for the plant are thought to include waste management firm Viridor.
Unveiling the plant, Agrivert chief executive, Alexander Maddan, commented: “In the world of renewable energy, anaerobic digestion is probably the most renewable form of energy. AD plants do not depend on sun shining or the wind blowing.”
He added: “When we are building we have got to think very carefully about how we are going to supply it, but what we have here is the most guaranteed tonnage of food waste in this industry. And they have built this plant for the cheapest amount possible.”
Operating 24 hours a day, the Chertsey facility will produce enough electricity to power 4,500 homes while also producing a biofertiliser for around 2,500 acres of farmland.
According to Agrivert, the plant is working at 96% efficiency and operates an 85-day digestion process.
Meanwhile, waste contaminants separated from the food waste before the AD process are also processed into a refuse derived fuel (RDF), which is exported for energy-from-waste (EfW) use in Belgium via an arrangement with waste management firm SITA UK.
Mr Maddan said it was important for energy to be produced 24 hours a day as two thirds of the income from the plant comes from energy generation, with the final third coming from food waste intake.
He added the plant was completed ahead of schedule in under nine months and reached zero to 2.4MW during commissioning in just 35 days “and have sustained it there ever since”.
The 2.4MW facility is Agrivert’s third AD plant, following the opening of the firm’s £9million Cassington facility in 2010 and its £10 million Wallingford plant last year.
In addition, Agrivert is currently building a new AD facility for water firm Severn Trent in Warwickshire, which is expected to be delivered before the end of 2014.