Energy Management


Biomethane plant gets set to serve 6,000 homes

Published: 22 July 2019 - Carly Wills

A biomethane plant near Pontefract in West Yorkshire is set to meet the energy needs of around 6,000 homes, thanks to a three kilometre directionally drilled pipeline installed under farmland by Energy Assets Utilities (EAU). 

The facility will create methane from chicken litter, food waste and organic matter produced by local farms and will purify the gas to the required specification before feeding it into the national grid. The gas will also power the site’s combined heat and power (CHP) unit, while the digester waste will be turned into nutrient-rich fertiliser.

The plant, designed by Bradford-based Aqua consultants, is due to come on stream in October and needed EAU’s utility network construction expertise to connect the biomethane site to the mains gas network. EAU worked closely with the local authority, distribution network owner, landowners and farmers to plan and install the three kilometre pipeline to the site, adhering to a carefully planned directional drilling schedule to minimise disruption.

The team had to consider the potential impact of the work on local farmers and businesses. This meant drilling and laying pipe in 100m lengths, and plating over the connection pits to maintain traffic flows at key times of the day.

Despite challenges, EAU delivered the project two weeks ahead of schedule.

Ashley Widdop, Aqua’s project manager, said the digester works by heating purpose grown crops, food waste and farmyard manures to 40oC and then processing the resulting methane using carbon and membrane filtration, before injecting propane to bring the gas up to the same specification as natural gas. There are four digester tanks on site, each capable of holding 6,800 cubic metres of feedstock.

“It’s a very good example of sustainable energy, with the facility producing gas to feed into the grid and power the on-site CHP unit, while using digester waste to create high quality liquid and dry fertilisers for use on crops to feed the plant. It will also play a part in helping the UK meet its climate change and carbon reduction targets and, unlike wind or solar, it can operate all year round”, said Widdop.

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