AD plant slashes Nestlé's electricity bill

UK-based anaerobic digestion (AD) specialist Clearfleau has revealed its energy output results for the plant it built for global food and beverage supplier Nestlé, one year after commissioning.

Clearfleau designed and built the onsite bioenergy plant for Nestlé's Fawdon confectionary factory, near Newcastle, which is helping Nestlé develop environmentally sustainable manufacturing at the site.

One year after commissioning, the plant is converting 200,000 litres per day of feedstock into renewable energy. Feedstock includes was waters from the site and 1,200 tonnes a year of residual by-products and ingredients.

The biogas produced is fuelling a combined heat and power (CHP) engine, which generates 200kW of electricity, used in the confectionary production process. This is around 8% of the factory's power requirements, cutting the annual electricity bill by approximately £100,000 (€128,000) per year. In addition, the site has registered for the Feed-in Tariff and will receive annual payments of around £250,000.

Previously, production residues from Fawdon, the former Rowntree factory, were discharged to sewer or fed to pig in the locality. Following the installation of the AD plant, all bio-degradable production residues are now converted into renewable energy on the factory site.

Clearfleau used its mobile trial unit to showcase the digestion technology to the management and workforce at the Fawdon site before construction and the help optimise the process design.

Nestlé's head of sustainability, Inder Poonaji, comments: 'Onsite treatment of production residues will help us reduce the wider environmental impact of our business and meet our sustainability goals. By working with Clearfleau, we continue to reduce our carbon footprint and generate value from food production residues.'

In addition to saving on fossil fuel purchase plus the other savings and revenue benefits, the project has reduced carbon footprint and environmental impact on the site. The carbon footprint for anaerobic digestion is at least seven times smaller than for conventional aerobic treatment plants.

The payback period on Nestlé's investment in the new AD plant is predicted to be four to five years.

Clearfleau CEO Craig Chapman says: 'For Nestlé, what was previously a processing overhead is now a valuable financial and environmental asset. The advantages of anaerobic digestion are becoming more apparent and we are currently building AD plants on dairy, distillery, food and biofuel manufacturing sites.'

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