Could Retford’s New Biogas Plant Be the Future of Energy Production?

Who would have thought that the future of UK energy could have started on a farm in Retford?

This month the new biofuel plant at the Tamar Energy site, on Retford-based farm Sutton Grange, started running for the first time. The site is now, after a year of construction, capable of producing enough electricity to power 6,000 homes across the UK.

The Tamar Energy plant produces around three megawatts of clean energy per week for the National Grid by processing vegetable trimmings, chicken litter, agricultural waste and maize. It is the first site in the UK to use anaerobic digestion technology to break down biodegradable material.

Anaerobic Digestion: The waste material is contained in a large vat and starved of oxygen, enabling micro-organisms to reproduce which release biogas (60% methane, 40% carbon dioxide). After 40 days the gas is transferred to a combustion engine and burned to create electricity.

Anaerobic digestion doesn’t emit pollution and any excess waste will be used by the plant’s neighbouring farm as a natural fertiliser instead of harmful chemicals. In addition, technology incorporated into the plant means the unpleasant ammonia fumes of the waste will be removed early enough in the process so it will not be released from the plant.

90,000 tonnes of feed stock will supply the Tamar Energy plant every year including poultry manure, dairy and pig slurry, and vegetable waste. Local farmers have been working alongside to supply waste feed stocks. Fortunately the waste material can be used by the Tamar Energy site which would otherwise have to go to landfill sites, which are becoming limited on space.

The Retford site is a pioneer for generating a security supply of home grown, clean energy as part of the growth plan of new energy production at lower capital costs.