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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Estate set to benefit from biofuel energy

PLANS to install a host of biomass boilers and anaerobic digesters at businesses across the county are entering the next stage.

50024586B000
PLANT PLANS: Holker Estates estate manager Rachel Beadling JOE RILEY REF: 50024586B000

Farmgen has announced plans to install 55 digester plants across Cumbria. The ‘giant compost bins’ transform unusable and waste vegetables and vegetation into biofuel to generate electricity and Holker Hall near Cartmel is one business hoping to take advantage of the new technology.

Bosses at Holker are in talks with Farmgen in a bid to build a plant on the estate.

There are a number of specific locations being considered, but the plant would be up to two miles away from the hall itself and could allow estate farmers to sell unwanted farm byproducts. A planning application is yet to be submitted but Holker bosses said the project was expected to move on over the coming months.

The plant will turn grass, maize and farm waste, such as bent carrots and slurry, into gas using living bacteria in the machine. This will then be transformed into electricity and a number of by-products, including fertiliser and hot water.

Rachel Beadling, estate manager at Holker Estates, said the plans were still in the early stages but a number of possible locations had been identified within the estate.

She said: “It’s an opportunity to make use of the resources we have got and we are particularly interested in terms of trying to use products which would otherwise be waste. We’re still looking at the feasibility of the plant, it’s very much in the early stages, but we’re very interested.”

Over the last year, Cumbria has become the focus for the development of the new technology and Lancashire-based Farmgen has been at the forefront of the charge. The company is led by multi-millionaire boss Simon Rigby and its first Cumbrian plant, at Dryholme near Silloth, is set to begin generating electricity next month.

Mr Rigby said: “We put everything into the plant – nobbly carrots, slurry, chicken litter, bent vegetables, grass – anything that is surplus or would otherwise be wasted. We turn the methane into biofuel to generate electricity and the liquid and solid matter is used as fertiliser. It’s the ultimate in recycling and is truly a sustainable energy source.”

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