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Scotland’s largest biogas plant takes shape

Scotland is to get its largest biogas plant yet at a former landfill site at Barkip, North Ayrshire, in a £13.5m deal involving Scottish and Southern Energy.
The Danish group Xergi will deliver the entire plant to Scotland for €8 million. It will then be constructed by Luddon Construction on behalf of Scottish & Southern Energy Generation Limited. The project is being built on a William Tracey Group landfill site.
JBD Tritec provided specialist pipework, fabrication and pumps and value services for the project. Burnhouse Engineering have been assisting with engineering designs, including the fibre handling system and acid storage system. They are also supplying 800 metres of process pipework, boiler, emergency flare to burn off gas, a 25 metre tall chimney stack and hydraulic tip tank doors. In addition, the company is assisting with 2D and 3D modelling drawings to determine plant layout.
Project partner, William Tracey, has signed a 25-year contract to supply feedstock materials for the plant, providing another recycling outlet for their customers to divert wastes away from landfill. Suitable materials will include waste foods, manures and organic effluent sludge.
Zero Waste Scotland confirmed its largest investment to date in anaerobic digestion with an investment of £2.2m for the Barkip site from its Organics Capital Grants programme.
Once completed, the plant will be operated by Zebec Biogas, also a West of Scotland company, who are enzyme and biological process experts and co-developed the project.  It will create 10 permanent jobs.
The plant includes a combined heat and power (CHP) unit producing power and heat, and storage tanks for the fertiliser. It will be capable of processing around 75,000 tonnes of waste annually (enough electricity to power 4,000 homes), producing around 2.0mW of renewable electricity.
Anaerobic Digestion is a natural biological process which uses bacterial cultures within enclosed silo tanks to generate methane rich biogas from waste organic materials and energy crops such as grass silage.  The biogas is captured and used to fuel engines which will generate renewable electricity that can be fed into the National Grid. It is a very different proposition from traditional power plants, as it uses a process which is an incredibly natural method (very similar to how a cow digests its food), so the fuel is not burned but digested by natural microbes instead! Other by-products from the AD process, such as plastics and metals from food containers, will be sent for recycling and the residue that remains at the end of process will be sold on as a high quality natural fertiliser. This technology is already in wide use across mainland Europe.
Environment Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, commented: “This major investment helps place anaerobic digestion at the heart of waste policy and emphasises the importance of renewable energy. The £2.2m grant to SSE demonstrates a robust commitment by the Scottish Government to invest in the future of a zero waste Scotland. The Barkip plant will be the largest of its kind in Scotland and will divert a staggering 37,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill each year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and recover value from resources that would otherwise be wasted.”
Xergi UK Country Manager Colin Steel adds: “This project is indeed a further leap forward and an important step in our establishment on the UK market. Everyone involved in this project should be congratulated in their efforts; we look forward to working closely with SSE in the future.”
SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant says: “Biogas has the potential to be one of the most important new generation renewable and sustainable energy solutions available to us, capturing the energy contained in waste”.
The plant is rapidly nearing completion with the installation of the very heart of power production at the plant; the massive primary and secondary digesters.
Bobby Gavin, Organic Recycling Account Manager for the William Tracey Group is delighted that the project has taken another huge step closer to completion: “This April, the landfill tax will increase to £56 per tonne. Companies who recycle food will have an opportunity to save costs in the face of such increases, so there’s now a very real opportunity to reduce waste, produce green energy, and lower their disposal charges; it’s just a pity that a Meerkat has already secured the “Simples” catchphrase!”


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