The plant is being constructed at First Milk's creamery in Wigton, Cumbria
British dairy company First Milk has completed the initial stage of construction for an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at the company’s creamery in Cumbria.
The expansion will allow First Milk – the owner of brands such as The Lake District Dairy Co and Mull of Kintyre – to convert whey permeate into bio-methane gas, which will be used for the running of the factory and pumped back into the local gas grid network.
The development will lead to a 25% reduction in the site’s annual energy costs, ensure greater price stability for the 40m kWh per annum needed to run the plant, and remove an annual 7,000 tonnes of carbon every year from the supply chain. It will also result in a number of benefits for the community, First Milk said, adding 100 jobs to the local economy and negating the need for numerous lorry journeys thanks to the on-site whey permeate recycling function.
Expected to be operational by the start of next year, the facility is the result of a collaboration with Clearfleau, which designed the facility, and was advised by renewable energy consultant Renewables Unlimited.
First Milk business development director Chris Gooderham said: “This new facility is an example of how we are continuing to progress our turnaround plan, by saving costs and improving the operational efficiency of every corner of the business.
“By utilising the very best technology from Clearfleau, First Milk will reduce the cost of handling the creamery’s production residues, while generating renewable energy for use on site. Therefore the new AD plant is more efficient, produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing off-site transport of residues and making better use of the whey permeate.
“Funding has been secured and the budget will be managed by Renewables Unlimited. This will be the first plant on a dairy processing site to feed bio-methane to the grid, which will then be used to run the factory and… supply local users.”
Clearfleau CEO Craig Chapman added: “This is a major development for the Lake District Biogas partnership (First Milk, Clearfleau and Renewables Unlimited). The project will generate biogas solely from cheese production residues, using advanced British technology. It is a very positive move by First Milk to future proof their award winning creamery operations by generating a significant proportion of their site’s future energy needs.”
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