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Feedstock flexibility has ‘paid off’ for UK AD plant

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Deciding to build an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant near Pontefract that can accept a wide range of feedstocks has ‘paid off’ for a UK firm.

Feedstock flexibility has enabled Lanes Farm Energy’s AD facility to continue functioning throughout its first year of operations, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Ted Sultan, director at the plant, explained that the difficult decisions made during the investment stage paid off, as the plant could expand the feedstock options available and continue production.

“Our flexible set-up has enabled us to accept a wide range of feedstock,” said Sultan. “For example, we can accept packaged food waste, solid and liquid food waste, agricultural waste, and crops.

“At the time of the decision to include the equipment to cater for this, we had no idea we were on the cusp of a global pandemic. However, with reduced waste supply, especially during local and national lockdowns, we quickly realised we were in a position to quickly change our feedstock types with minimal effort to keep generating biogas.”

Changes to feedstock type can lead to a decrease in the performance of any AD plant, according to Sultan, as digesters function at their best when they receive a consistent feedstock recipe. However, ‘future proofing’ the plant to cater for feedstock shortages and changes in supply and demand are “fundamental” to the running of the plant, he said.

Anthony Hughes, finance account manager at Privilege Finance, the specialist energy from waste funder which financed the plant, said he had worked closely with Sultan and his team since operations were handed over to them from the technology provider in February 2020.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed by the team’s resilience and approach to dealing with the challenges which have arisen,” said Hughes. “This plant consistently takes every opportunity to innovate, making sure they’re being the best they can be, and they’ve stayed true to that ethos throughout an immensely tricky year, enabling the continued production of green gas.”