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UK Biogas Energy Targets and a New (Vegetable Producer’s) AD Plant Case Study

I was reading the Weltec Biopower Press Release, which follows below, and I also read the background note provided by their publicist. It explains how there are now lots of projects like the Anaerobic Digestion Plant described below, being built by Weltec BioPower and others, that are crucial to the UK’s plans to provide 15% of the nation’s energy demand, from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Not only that, carbon emissions are targeted to be reduced by about three quarters by then, in comparison with those emissions back in 1990.

But, for Anaerobic Digestion the UK civil service has now appreciated that, wind and solar energy alone will not be enough to get the nation to the target.

The hard fact is that another renewable source needs to be established in order to ensure reliable supply.

What is that “other, (little known?) renewable source?

Yes! It’s biogas!

So they have set-up subsidies to encourage the bio-energy industry sector (especially Anaerobic Digestion) to thrive and grow. The reasoning is that by the injection of cash, such as attractive feed-in tariffs for electrical power, the target can be met.

“If other entrepreneurs follow the example of Gilfresh Produce, the United Kingdom will be able to reach the defined climate goals”, said Kevin Monson of Weltec.

So, are they following the example of Gilfresh Produce? And, just how many UK Anaerobic Digestion Plants have now been built?

The answer to that question is best answered by visiting the recent NNFCC PRESS RELEASE:

Anaerobic Digestion deployment in the United Kingdom

Over the past 12-months the UK AD industry has continued to thrive, despite many challenges that have occurred along the way. With 50 new plants commissioned and more than 200 new plants entering the development pipeline, the sector is rapidly expanding, maturing and finding its way in the ever changing development landscape. The total number of operational plants is now 185, with installed capacity totalling 168MWe – the industry is now capable of providing electricity for around 350,000 households.

There are over 500 plants in the development pipeline; of which 204 have been initiated over the last year. Of the new projects entering the pipeline, 156 are expected to use agricultural feedstocks, while just 46 are expected to use predominantly food waste.

Lucy Hopwood, NNFCC’s Lead Consultant for Bioenergy & Anaerobic Digestion, said: “Feedstock is the key to future expansion. There’s concern about food waste availability with suggestions that we’re rapidly closing the waste treatment capacity gap. However, when you look at the figures they suggest otherwise. Only 2 million tonnes of the reported 16 million tonnes of food waste generated every year in the UK is currently treated through AD. The issue here isn’t availability – it’s accessibility.”

She added: “Similarly, agricultural wastes, such as manures and slurries, are still a relatively untapped resource – fewer than 1 million of the 90 million tonnes generated are being treated through AD. This isn’t an accessibility issue, it’s an economic one.”

PRESS RELEASE: “Green Vegetables Gas Up!”

WELTEC BIOPOWER Builds 500kW Biogas Plant for Vegetable Producer

In January 2015, WELTEC BIOPOWER started building an anaerobic digestion plant in Loughgall, Northern Ireland. The customer and operator of the 500-kW plant is the vegetable producer Gilfresh Produce. The enterprise produces numerous field-grown products and processes them into food.

For WELTEC, this is the third plant in Northern Ireland and thus the eleventh in the UK“, says Kevin Monson, sales manager of WELTEC BIOPOWER UK Ltd., in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

Thanks to Northern Ireland‘s mild Gulf Stream climate, the products of Gilfresh grow well on an agricultural area of 1,000 ha. The product portfolio of the growth-oriented family enterprise includes root vegetables, salad crops and numerous cabbage varieties. The company, which was established more than 50 years ago and has almost 130 employees, also grows trend products like pak choi.

Gilfresh used to deliver the vegetable waste that accumulates in the sorting, washing and packaging processes to farmers as cattle feed. From July 2015, the waste and the vegetable washing water will be loaded into the bioreactor. To maintain an optimum stock level, an underground pre-storage tank is located before the two 2,625m³ stainless-steel digesters; a 6,000m³ tank is planned for gas-tight digestate storage. In addition to vegetable waste, cattle manure, chicken litter as well as whole crop, grass and maize silage will be used.

Especially in view of the different properties of the substances to be used, the investors were impressed by the WELTEC solution for uninterrupted entry of the input material: The robust MULTIMix system guarantees continuous utilisation and homogenisation of the substrates and stable plant operation. In combination with an 80m³ solid matter dosing feeder, the WELTEC system ensures optimum shredding and intensive mixing of the vegetable waste and long-fibre silage. The efficient pre-processing of the substances ensures, not only biological decomposition and efficient gas yield, but also low energy consumption of the plant.

“The biogas plant will enable us to pursue our growth course on the one hand and our ecological goals on the other hand”, explained Thomas Gilpin, founder of Gilfresh.

“WELTEC has designed the plant precisely for our specific production conditions. What ultimately convinced us was the fact that WELTEC was able to offer this flexible design with high-quality technologies at excellent conditions”, says Thomas. Another reason why he is pleased with the plant layout is that his company advocates the determined protection of resources.

In line with the goal to constantly improve their ecological footprint, the decision-makers decided to supply their own energy: About 40 percent of the power generated by the 500-kW CHP plant can be utilised in the company‘s own production process. In the near future, the efficiency will increase even more due to the upcoming expansion of the cold storage.

The excess power is fed into the public grid, and the process heat is made use of for heating the company buildings and for the production processes.

To maintain an optimum stock level, an underground pre-storage tank is located before the two 2,625m³.

Iamge showing a Weltec biogas plant

Image: Weltec biogas plant – Loughgall

The biogas bioreactor tanks at this site are made from stainless steel, and not the usual glass coated steel tanks. This provides for a longer biogas plant life. To learn why using stainless steel is so important to high quality biogas plant designs.



WELTEC BIOPOWER GmbH · Zum Langenberg 2 · 49377 Vechta · Germany
Phone: +49 4441 99978-0 · Fax: +49 4441 99978-8 · E-mail: · Internet:
Pressemitteilung – Press release – Communiqué de presse

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