Three farms in the South East are now producing their own electricity and exporting the surplus to the grid.EnviTec Biogas has completed the anaerobic digestion (AD) plants at Buttermilk Hall Farm near Buntingford, Hertfordshire, Trinity Hall Farm near Dunstable, Bedfordshire and Station Works in Thaxted, Essex.Each of the 1MW facilities has been built in partnership with AD developer Hallwick Energy.
Buntingford is a 1,200 hectare arable farm run by Scott&Scott, which also contracts an additional 4,000 to 4,800 hectares. The farming arm of Scott&Scott produces wheat, rape and maize.
Scott&Scott has an interest in the other two AD operations, and it will supply maize feedstock to all three plants.James Fenwick, Director at Hallwick Energy, said: “Biogas production makes it economically beneficial to grow break crops like maize, especially in heavy arable areas where there wouldn’t otherwise be an opportunity or reason to grow it.“For Scott&Scott the advantages are multiple. Biogas is a diversification scheme that adds revenue streams from electricity production and the sale of feedstocks, and the digestate produced at the end of the process is of real value to the land itself.“Nutrients are important, but in intensive arable regions of the South East, the organic matter in the digestate is vital for soil condition and moisture retention.“You can use chemical fertilisers to replace nutrients or you can add silage or chicken manure at great expense, but Scott&Scott can now put 80 to 90 per cent of what they put into the plant back in the ground at the end. That has enormous implications for fertiliser costs and soil quality.”
EnviTec Biogas UK plans, builds and services anaerobic digestion biogas plants on farms across the country.John Day, UK Sales Manager at EnviTec, said: “AD projects have to be thought through and planned carefully, but they can pay back investment within five years.“Wheat farmers are always at the mercy of a commoditised market, but with the Feed in Tariffs set for 20 years, biogas can introduce some welcome predictability to business planning.“AD plants increase revenues, reduce costs and demonstrate environmental credentials to buyers and the surrounding community.”EnviTec Biogas UK is part of EnviTec Biogas AG, which is listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange and which operates worldwide through subsidiaries, joint ventures and sales offices.