Waste management firm Biffa has submitted a planning application to build a facility which would convert food and vegetable waste into electricity.
The firm has put in an application to Staffordshire County Council for an 80,000 tonne per annum anaerobic digestion plant to be built at the company’s waste management facility at Poplars, Cannock.
The plant will create 4 Megawatts of electricity from food and waste from West Midland households and businesses that would otherwise destined be for landfill.
This would include discarded food from supermarkets, restaurants and food manufacturers.
The anaerobic digestion process breaks down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen to produce a methane-rich biogas which can be used in energy production as a replacement for fossil fuels.
The process also significantly reduces the volume and mass of organic waste material and produces compost which can be used in agriculture to improve soil quality.
Biffa estimates the planned Staffordshire plant will divert two million tonnes of waste from landfill over its estimated 25-year operational life.
Biffa director of environment and external affairs David Savory said: “This is the next stage in the process of developing new waste treatment infrastructure and increasing the company’s portfolio of renewable energy generation schemes.”
“Building this type of technology is essential if we are to move the UK towards a low carbon economy, reverse the most damaging effects of climate change, and improve energy security.
“We hope that construction on the plant will start in late 2009 and fully operational by the end of 2010”.
Last month Biffa announced it had appointed Ros Roca Envirotec, part of the Ros Roca Environment Group, as technology provider for the plant.
Imtech Process of Burntwood, Staffordshire have been appointed as main contractor for the construction of the plant.
If Biffa is successful in getting planning permission for the anaerobic digestion facility it would be another step forward in developing the region’s expertise in biomass. Over in the west of the region, Biocycle South Shropshire, the Ludlow Greenfinch anaerobic digestion facility earlier this year won part of a £10 million funding package from Defra’s Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme.
The company is proposing to install an innovative piece of new technology designed to maximise gas yields by breaking down cell structures prior to digestion – which could bring as much as a 15 per cent increase in gas yields.
And academics at Aston University are looking into a complementary technology to anaerobic digestion – called combustion and pyrolysis – to create heat and electricity as well as hydrogen from sources such as sewage, algae, agricultural and municipal waste and even building waste.
The university has announced plans to build a ring of 15 mini waste-fuelled power plants around the city which could provide enough energy to cover Birmingham City Council’s entire needs by 2020.