Turning food waste into energy is becoming a reality

Sustainable energy and waste management are two of the top contenders in any discussion of priorities for consideration in the UK, and another step has been taken towards addressing those priorities. It’s called AD (anaerobic digestion) and it involves turning food waste into electricity.

Tamar Energy Ltd, launched in February this year, is a company focused on producing energy from organic waste. The company is backed by a £65 million investment for a project that will develop more than 40 anaerobic digestion plants throughout the UK, generating an estimated 100 megawatts of green energy for homes and businesses over the next five years.

Both UK and international investors have come together to fund and manage the project, among them RIT Capital Partners, Fair Capital, Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall, Lord Rothschild’s Family Interests and Sainsbury’s. As well as investing in the venture, Sainsbury’s will be a strategic partner as the UK’s leading retail user of AD.

Anaerobic digestion is a rather remarkable technology, in that it uses nature’s own organisms to break down food waste from all sources, converting it to methane-rich gas and a final by-product of organic fertilizer. The gas is converted to electricity using on-site engines and the fertilizer goes to enrich the soil of farms. Tamar states that AD offers predictable local electricity supplies from plants that are not visually obtrusive, plus a substantial reduction in waste going to landfills.

The government also endorsed the project; Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey commented that energy from waste has the potential to contribute substantially to the UK’s renewable energy, and he applauds this sort of investment.

Tamar’s Executive Chairman, Alan Lovell said that the underdevelopment of AD in the UK is mostly due to lack of financing, and the strong backing of investors in this project will be a ‘game-changer’ as the project will focus on the production of energy instead of just being a sideline to waste management.