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First biomethane-to-grid facility heating 56,000 homes in Dorset

Around 56,000 houses in the county of Dorset in South West England will be getting sustainable heating with the opening of the first fully operational commercial scale biomethane-to-grid project in the United Kingdom.

The Rainbarrow Farm anaerobic digestion plant is owned and operated by JV Energen and is a joint venture between local farmers and the Duchy of Cornwall. It will provide renewable gas to the village of Poundbury.

Almost 40,000 metric tons of organic matter, sourced locally, will be used annually to produce biogas which will then be injected directly into the gas grid. Local companies and farms such as Dorset Cereals and Express Potatoes will be supplying the materials.

The plant will produce biomethane formed during the decomposition of organic matter under anaerobic conditions. Biomethane is low-carbon and, once upgraded, is close to pure methane and very similar to natural gas.

According to the National Non-Food Crops Center, anaerobic digestion can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also provides additional revenue streams from energy generation.

Aside from biogas, the process produces digestate, a wet product containing plant nutrients and organic humus that can then be used as fertilizer.

Anaerobic digestion offers an environmentally sensitive waste disposal option for farmers and the food processing industry, diverting organic waste from landfills.

In the case of Rainbarrow, the digester will use 24,000 metric tons of maize, 10,000 metric tons of grass, 4,000 metric tons of potato waste and a small amount of waste chocolate and muesli.

The digester will generate around 859 cubic meters of biogas per hour and provide up to 23,000 metric tons of liquid and 8,000 metric tons of solid digestate per year. Around 4,435 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions will also be saved by the plant every year.

The NNFCC sees the integration of anaerobic digestion into farming practice as essential to the spread and uptake of climate smart farming and key to reducing farm emissions which contribute 9 percent to Britain’s total emissions. – Katrice R. Jalbuena

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