A 500kW biogas plant has come online at Yorkshire producer Melrose Pigs.
Commissioning is underway on the EnviTec Biogas anaerobic digestion project, which will be fed partly with slurry from Melbourne-based Melrose’s finisher pigs.
Maize silage and grass silage from sister company Northern Crop Driers will also be fed into the system, which will produce electricity to be used on site and sold into the grid.
Pam Dear, one of the Directors at Melrose, said: “We’re looking at payback on the investment within five years.
“Drying grass to produce feed for horses is pretty energy-intensive, so we’ll be using some of the electricity for that, while some of it will go to the grid.
“The Feed in Tariffs will help with revenues, and because they’re set for the long term it helps with business planning.
“Pork prices have always fluctuated, so the more predictability we can build in the easier it is to make sensible investment decisions.”
Pig slurry is already feeding EnviTec plants in Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Czech Republic and France.
The process will help simplify slurry storage at Melrose, while the digestate produced by the plant will reduce fertiliser costs.
Pam said: “The EnviTec facility means we don’t have to use the lagoon for slurry storage. It’s processed and cleaned before it ever needs to be stored and it turns the pig slurry into a product with more readily-available nutrients for uptake by the crops.
“It helps with odours, and at the end of the process you end up with a product that is better than the one that went in.
“The beauty is that biogas production will help both our businesses grow.”
Initially, the plant will only produce electricity, but Melrose is considering using the heat generated as well it to generate heat as well – again, to help with crop drying and possibly to take advantage of the Renewable Heat Incentive.
John Day, UK Sales Manager at EnviTec, said: “Anaerobic digestion can be ideal for pig producers.
“It opens up revenue streams, it transforms slurry management, and it demonstrates to the surrounding community that you have a commitment to sustainability.
“Payback periods are relatively short, and in this case we were able to keep investment costs down by planning existing infrastructure into the design.”