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ReFood awards gas-to-grid contract

ReFood, part of PDM Group, the UK’s largest food waste recycler, has awarded the contract to provide the gas-to-grid system at its new Widnes-based anaerobic digestion (AD) facility to Chesterfield BioGas (CBG). Once completed, the £20m Widnes plant will be the largest food waste gas-to-grid AD project in the UK.

The new plant, due for completeion in 2014, will have the capacity to handle 90,000 tonnes of commercial and domestic food waste and will generate up to 2,000m3 per hour of raw biogas. The new Widnes ReFood plant is part of PDM’s plan to spend more than £90m on its UK operations before the end of 2014.

The diversification into a gas-to-grid system represents ReFoods ongoing commitment to offering a wide portfolio of renewable energy solutions. Further AD plants being developed by ReFood in the UK will use a combination of systems to provide sales of electricity, heat, gas and other forms of renewable energy applications.

Philip Simpson, commercial director at PDM, commented: “This is the first time that ReFood has invested in this technology in Europe. The decision to move to supplying upgraded biogas direct to the grid rather than using it for the generation of CHP was the result of a long and detailed assessment of the various technical systems available. We are always keen to ensure that we invest in the most sustainable and efficient solution. We are pleased to be working with CBG, who have a proven track record implementing such systems and offer long-term support to ensure high levels of performance.

“Food waste is a valuable asset and, as a company, we are committed to delivering the most advanced solutions to maximise its value as both a source of energy and for its nutrient value in the form of organic digestates that can be returned to the land.”

The ‘Totara’ biogas-to-biomethane upgrader, which is due to be installed at the ReFood plant in Widnes in April 2014, employs the Greenland® water-scrubbing method which doesn’t require heat or chemicals to operate. Instead, the system uses water, much of which can then be recycled, thus presenting a truly sustainable method.

An advanced de-sulpurisation package, supplied by CBG, removes the harmful contaminates in the gas so that it can be injected into the national gas grid. Once the gas has been drawn off, a nutrient-rich organic fertiliser is left which can then be used by farmers in the local area to grow new crops.