Assessing an investment in the Willen Biogas anaerobic digestion plant
Anthesis (then trading as LRS Consultancy), was commissioned by Foresight Group to assess the market potential for a new anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to treat food waste. This included a review of the feedstock supply security for the plant, the competition for this material and current and expected gate fees (ie. charges for taking waste materials in). In addition, Anthesis carried out a review of the markets for the digestate; the appropriateness of the technology and the likely performance of the plant; the support regimes available from the government; the energy outputs and export arrangements, and a policy review to look at potential trends that will affect the financial and operational performance of the plant.
Our market assessment formed part of the due diligence process that secured £15 million of investment towards developing new infrastructure. Work is now well under way on the new Willen Biogas AD plant at its Cattlegate Farm premises in Enfield, Hertfordshire, England. The plant will be powered by around 27,000 tonnes of food waste each year from the hotel, restaurant, retail trade and local food manufacturers. This waste will come mainly from the London area but also from regional sources in Hertfordshire and Essex. The new plant will generate electricity, reduce carbon emissions and create jobs, as well as removing waste that would otherwise have been sent to landfill.
The adjacent composting facility will take garden waste from homes across London and the Northern Home Counties and turn it into compost. The biogas produced from the AD plant will be cleaned and processed through a gas engine to produce over 1 megawatt of electricity that will feed into the grid on site, while the digestate from the AD process and the compost will be used as fertilizer by local farmers on their land, saving them over £120,000 each year in fertiliser fertilizer costs.
The composting plant started operating late in 2014 and the AD plant is due to commence operations in May 2016. The project was funded by the UK’s Green Investment Bank under their UK Waste Renewable Energy Investments (UKWREI) fund together with the Foresight Environmental Fund (FEF), which is backed by the London Waste and Recycling Board, as well as other institutional and private investors.