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Malaby Biogas LCA study confirms plant’s ‘significant carbon negativity’

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Malaby Biogas, the UK-based operator of Bore Hill Farm Biodigester has confirmed the significant carbon negativity of its operations following a six-month lifecycle assessment (LCA).

The company said the findings “drive home” the vital role that small-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) plants could play as part of the UK Government’s legally binding commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and its commitment to delivering a post-COVID-19 green recovery.

The LCA study for Malaby’s Bore Hill Farm Biodigester was conducted by a final-year Masters student at the University of Bath and concluded it had an emissions intensity score of -102g of carbon dioxide (CO2)/MJ electricity generated, indicating the “significantly negative” carbon impact of the operation.

In a recently published report by the EU, it was estimated that food waste costs the EU economy around €143 billion per year and is responsible for 15% of all GHG emissions associated with the food supply chain.

Small and medium-sized (SME) biodigester plants such as Malaby are well-placed to help decarbonise food production. Their proximity to rural businesses and farms ensures all forms of food and organic waste are used within a closed-loop system while boosting regional economies.

With an estimated 100 similar AD plants close to Malaby’s currently operational in the UK, the study findings suggest that small-scale AD plants are already helping to mitigate as much as 600,000 tonnes of GHG emissions annually, equivalent to removing 400,000 new cars off the road, or 770,000 round-trip seats to New York.

Thomas Minter, director of Malaby Biogas, said: “The key findings from this LCA study really drive home the role that the UK’s AD industry could play in reducing the GHG emissions associated with the food supply chain.

“Decarbonisation – on both a local and national scale – is not an ambition but a legally binding obligation. We urge the government to put policies in place that support the potential of AD in the UK as part of the creation of a green recovery. Not only will this enable the government to address its net-zero ambitions, but it will also help provide vital jobs for young people.”

Malaby’s Bore Hill Farm Biodigester has been operational for eight years and processes almost 30,000 tonnes of food and organic waste each year, converting it into more than 7,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity that is fed into the National Grid.

With local authorities expected to implement food waste collections for households over the next five years and policies being set to support decarbonisation of agriculture, the potential for more distributed renewable resource management will increase “significantly,” according to Malaby.

“Building a closed-loop economy for organic wastes and residues - be it from commercial or residential sources, people, or animals - is vital if we want to accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy as part of a COVID-19 recovery,” added Minter.

“Malaby Biogas wholeheartedly supports all our local authorities in this transition which can boost local renewable energy production as well as providing significant economic and educational opportunities for communities.”