Acorn Bioenergy plans €63.1m biogas plant in Scottish Highlands

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Acorn Bioenergy has submitted a planning application to The Highland Council, as it plans to utilise crops and by-products from local farms and distilleries, as part of plans to invest up to £55 million (€63.1m) in the area, reported The Insider.
The company possesses accreditation to inject 5,000m3 of biomethane into the nation's gas grid to heat homes and fuel heavy goods vehicles.
It intends to achieve this by advancing anaerobic digestion plants in the Highlands, Moray and Aberdeenshire - with a total investment in Scotland over the next two years of around £105m (€120m).
The London-based firm is seeking permission from The Highland Council to develop the first of its proposed Scottish plants on a 7.5-hectare site at Fearn Airfield, near Balintore, in Easter Ross.
Acorn said development of the £25m plant, which it hopes will be operational by 2024, would create 15 full-time jobs in the area and around 100 during its construction.
It should also offer local farmers a new, long-term source of income, selling feedstock, such as energy crops, silages, straw and waste inputs - including manures - to be used in the plant’s five digestion tanks, along with draff and pot ale from local distilleries.
The biomethane produced at the plant will also be available as an alternative gas fuel supply to distilleries to help them achieve net zero targets in their heating processes. In exchange for distilling by-products, Acorn will work with distillers to create a circular economy solution to their high energy demands, while helping decarbonise their operations from field to bottle.
Carbon dioxide will also be produced and captured, with potential uses in a variety of sectors, including food and drink, emerging hydrogen technologies and the sustainable aviation market.
Acorn stated that its studies had shown that, once operational, the Fearn Airfield plant is expected to add just 10% to traffic movements on access routes to the site. The firm added that the facility, which will not use food or domestic waste or animal biproducts, would create only “minimal odour” and low levels of background noise.
The company intends to hold a series of local consultation events to encourage engagement with residents and communities close to the proposed plant as part of the planning process.
Acorn has also submitted a planning application for a gas injection point near Morayston, by Inverness.
Natalie Dillon, business development manager at Acorn, said: “This is an exciting stage for our planned projects in the Highlands and we are looking forward to working closely with the local communities and The Highland Council as we continue to develop them.
“There is a pressing need for greater UK energy security and a rapidly increasing demand for greener fuel for the transition to net zero - anaerobic digestion is a centuries old technology that can produce clean, green energy to heat homes and power HGVs.
“We have identified areas in Scotland where agriculture and distilleries are a significant part of the landscape and would like to work with farmers and distillers to offer an alternative source of secure income with longevity in return for feedstock.”

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