Southwold brewer turns waste into power

A pioneering renewable energy system which generates gas from Adnams' brewery and food waste delivered power to the National Grid for the first time yesterday.

The Adnams Bio Energy plant in Reydon, near Southwold, will generate enough biogas to heat more than 230 average family homes for a year when it is running at full capacity, and the first pipe fulls of biomethane were injected into the grid yesterday afternoon.

The anaerobic digestion (AD) facility, which is the first in the UK to produce gas for the National Grid from brewery and food waste, uses natural microbes to speed up the decomposition of the waste, giving off methane gas and leaving an organic liquid fertiliser.

As well as selling the gas and cutting the level of harmful gases given off from sending waste to landfill, Adnams' delivery lorries will be converted to run on biogas and the fertiliser can be used on suppliers' barley fields. The AD plant will eventually be home to a visitor centre which will showcase the company's green credentials.

Adnams chief executive Andy Wood said: 'We take climate change very seriously. We believe that fossil fuel costs and going to rise, and that the polluter will have to pay, so as well as meeting our environmental aims, this makes sound business sense.

'This facility will have a major impact on the reduction of carbon emissions in the region and the production of renewable energy. The food waste would otherwise be destined for landfill, but processing it through the digester will save an estimated 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents from landfill.'

Under a partnership with British Gas and the National Grid, Adnams Bio Energy will break down 12,500 tonnes of waste each year and generate 4.8m kilowatt hours of energy - enough to power the average family car for four million miles.

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Steve Sharratt, chief executive of Bio Group which operates the AD plant with Adnams Bio Energy, said that by November the plant should be providing a constant supply of renewable gas to the National Grid to be used to heat homes all over the UK.

Former Suffolk Coastal MP and environmental consultant John Gummer, who launched the first delivery of gas, said: 'I genuinely think this is one of the most exciting things I've ever been asked to do. The best thing about it is that it's turning a problem into a solution.'

As well as using waste from Adnams' pubs and hotels, Waitrose has signed up to send waste from seven of its nearby branches and from the John Lewis store in Norwich.