GREEN chiefs on Teesside say food waste-to-energy schemes could prove a money saver for cash-strapped councils.
As many as 1,000 energy plants could be built in the UK using Anaerobic Digestion (AD), which uses food and other types of organic waste to produce power.
Last week top Defra minister Lord Henley, who was visiting Teesside, said the Government supported AD.
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In January, industries from manufacturing to construction will attend an event by Wilton-based RENEW and Manufacturing Advisory Service North-east to find out about the opportunities from the emerging sector.
Work on the North-east’s first commercial AD plant will begin in a few weeks, fuelling hopes the scheme will be a springboard for more like it.
Newton Aycliffe company Emerald Biogas will take commercial food waste and turn it into green electricity.
RENEW chiefs claim advances in the technology to produce renewable gas as well as electricity could lead to a revolutionary “closed loop” system for councils, turning waste from kerbside collections into fuel for their fleets.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a cashback scheme that comes into force next year, is also expected to galvanise the industry.
The next step for RENEW is a study with Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton councils to gauge the potential for AD on Teesside.
“The scale we are talking about makes AD plants large enough and too expensive to ship from the continent, so there’s a very real need for local production,” said Peter Walsh, RENEW’s energy manager.
“That means more work for manufacturing, fabrication, installers processing, equipment installation, civil works.
“We want to see much more local content, not importing of technology. Large fabrication structures, tanks, pipework instrumentation - these are all skills and industries that people are familiar with on Teesside.
“There hasn’t been the financial incentives until now - although they’re not as high as we wanted,” he added.
Speaking during his tour of world leading plastics recycling plant Biffa Polymers, Redcar, Lord Henley, who has overall responsibility for UK waste and recycling, said: “We are keen to encourage AD, and we’re working hard with other departments to do what we can.”
Antony Warren, from Emerald Biogas, said: “Landfill tax makes its competitive to take food out of the waste stream for companies.
“We need this to take off, there’s a push from Government and all the marketplace incentives are there to make it happen.”