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A Sustainable Future in Action: Our visit to the Willen Biogas AD Plant

A Sustainable Future in Action: Our visit to the Willen Biogas AD Plant

On 26 January, the ADBA team had the privilege of visiting the Willen Biogas anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Enfield, a pioneering facility at the forefront of renewable energy and waste management. This insightful field visit enhanced the team’s understanding of how anaerobic digestion works and demonstrated the practical application of such sustainable practices in today’s world.

Members of the ADBA team at the Willem Biogas plant in Enfield, North London

Located on the outskirts of North London, the Willen Biogas Plant can process 27,000 tonnes of organic waste annually, making it a critical component in London’s strategy to manage waste sustainably. It has been operational since 2016 and can handle food waste from various sources across London, including households, restaurants, and the food industry. Willen Biogas also holds its compost site where green waste is processed. It is keen on having local authorities divert more food waste to similar facilities.

The highlight of our visit was witnessing the technology in action. The plant utilizes anaerobic digestion, a process where microorganisms break down organic matter without oxygen, producing biogas. This biogas is converted into 1.5 MW of electricity to power approximately 1,750 households.

Tour highlights:

  • Pre-treatment facility:
    The tour began with the pre-treatment facility where plastic residues are separated from organic waste, ensuring the purity of the digestible material.
  • Digestion tanks: The team observed the large digestion tanks where the actual breakdown of waste occurs, a process both fascinating and complex.
  • Energy generation:
    The energy generation unit was particularly impressive, showcasing how biogas is transformed into electricity and fed into the grid.
  • Digestate management:
    Digestate, the by-product, is used as a natural fertilizer, enhancing the sustainability cycle.

The Willen Biogas plant not only addresses waste management issues effectively but also contributes significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By converting waste into energy and fertiliser, it exemplifies a closed-loop system, beneficial for both the environment and the community.

The visit concluded with a presentation by ADBA’s Technical Support Manager, Flávio Ascenco, without whom this visit wouldn’t have been possible. In his presentation, he brilliantly drew parallels between the process of anaerobic digestion in biogas production and the human body’s natural process of digestion and energy conversion.

The site visit to the Willen Biogas plant and presentation provided the ADBA team with a tangible, real-world perspective of their work, illustrating the practical implementation and impact of our work and efforts in renewable energy.

ADBA would like to thank Willen Biogas Manager Bogdan Dumitru and Director Adrian Williams for this unique opportunity and providing such insightful access and information.

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