Cory Environmental opens AD plant in Somerset

Waste management and energy recovery firm, Cory Environmental, has opened its first anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

The renewable energy recycling plant will initially process approximately 12,000 tonnes of organic material each year , and generate 500 kilowatts of electricity per hour. However, a planned upgrade of the energy plant is expected to see ‘more than double’ electricity production.

 “A major milestone”

Speaking of the plant opening, Alistair Holl, Director at Cory Environmental, said: “This development represents a major milestone for Cory Environmental as the Weston-super-Mare plant is our first anaerobic facility.

 “We took a central role in delivering this facility, acting as main contractor for the project and construction and also taking ownership of the entire plant and site design. Through careful project management we were able to go from planning consent to energy production in just 18 months, and commencement of construction works to process commissioning in under seven months. This is testament to the expertise and commitment of our team.”

The opening of the plant has been welcomed by North Somerset Council, with whom Cory Environmental holds a seven-year waste contract (with extension provision to March 2024). According to Cory, around 7,500 tonnes of food waste collected from the council will be used as feedstock for the AD plant.

Councillor Peter Bryant, North Somerset Council’s executive member responsible for waste and recycling said: “We are delighted that the AD plant is now complete and that food waste in North Somerset can be dealt with locally with the added benefit of producing energy to power nearly 1,000 homes.”

The AD plant is the latest of Cory Environmental’s projects to progress, after Norfolk County Council decided last week (29 October) to press ahead with plans to allow Cory to build a £500 million incinerator in the area, despite government withdrawing funding for the Willows Power and Recycling project.

UK AD capacity

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a ‘natural process where plant and animal materials (biomass) are broken down by micro-organisms in the absence of air.'

AD has been used in the UK since the late 1800s, but now an increasing number of plants are being built in the UK to generate renewable energy. Earlier this year, bioeconomy consultants National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), released figures that showed the UK has 106 AD plants in operation, processing up to 5.1 million tonnes of food and farm waste every year.

However, despite the growing number of AD plants, the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum– a group set up by carbon management company Carbon Statement (CS) says that ‘up to half of food waste produced by the hospitality sector is being sent to landfill due to inadequate AD capacity in the UK’.

Indeed, according to the findings, if the 200,000 tonnes of food waste generated by its 12,000 members annually was sent to AD, it could generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes for one year.

Find out more about Cory Environmentalor learn about AD in the UK.