A month into my new role at ADBA, I went on my first site visit to an Anaerobic Digestion plant in South London (Mitcham). I was looking forward to the visit as I love technology and find renewables fascinating. I genuinely find it incredible how waste can be turned into energy.
I went on the site visit with Baroness Miller from the House of Lords and Matt Hindle, Head of Policy at ADBA. We arrived at the site around 9am, being in South London I didn’t think there would be much space for a large Anaerobic Digestion plant but was surprised to see a site which is much smaller than I imagined. The site can produce about 3MWe, which is quite a lot of energy to generate in such a small area!
We were met by Paul Kiloughery, the director of Bio Collectors and his site manager Lee. First of all, we went into a meeting room where Paul and Lee spoke about the business. Creating an avenue for industry and Parliament to meet is crucial. It gave Bio collectors the opportunity to discuss with Baroness Miller issues, benefits, innovation and technology. Bio collectors gather food waste from hotels, supermarkets, schools and residential areas in and around London. In a rather unique decision, they have a process to remove, clean and recycle plastics left in the food waste. The main output from the anaerobic digestion process is what is left behind, the digestate. This is sold in liquid form to farmers as fertiliser for crops. The business also ensures that their labour force is multi-skilled and can switch between different tasks depending on the needs of the business.
After a discussion and cup of tea, we went to a walk around the site. Once we had our safety gear on; hard hats and hi-vis, we ventured outside where there were two massive tanks. One was happily sat there with brown digestate bubbling away inside of it. The bubbling is from the methane bubbling up to the surface and releasing the gas into the space between the digestate and the roof. The digestate is heated or cooled with heating coils around the inside edge of the tank to maintain an optimum temperature. The other tank is still in construction, allowing us to see the true scale for the size of them.
The site visit lasted a few hours, it was great to see positive interaction between parliament and industry and I was impressed by what Bio Collectors strive to do; a multi skilled work force, on-site recycling, growth in a relatively small area, supporting agriculture and doing their bit for the environment.