Flexible set-up keeps AD plant running through Covid-19 challenges

The decision to build an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant near Pontefract which can accept a wide range of feedstock types including packaged food waste, solid and liquid food waste, crops and agricultural waste, has paid off at Lanes Farm Energy. Feedstock flexibility has enabled the AD plant to continue functioning throughout its first year of operations, despite significant challenges posed by Covid-19.

Tel Sultan, director at the AD plant explains that the difficult decisions made during investment stage paid off, as the plant had the ability to expand the feedstock options available and continue production during one of the most challenging years experienced in the AD sector.

“Our flexible site set-up has enabled us to accept a wide range of feedstock. For example, we can accept packaged food waste, solid and liquid food waste, agricultural waste and crops.

“At the time of the decision to include the equipment to cater for this we had no idea we were on the cusp of a global pandemic. However, with reduced waste supply, especially during local and national lockdowns, we quickly realised we were in a position to quickly change our feedstock types with minimal effort to keep generating biogas,” he says.

Mr Sultan explains that changes to feedstock type can lead to a decrease in the performance of any AD plant, as digesters function at their best when they receive a consistent feedstock recipe.

“However, future proofing the plant to cater for shortages of feedstocks and changes in supply and demand are fundamental to the running of the plant,” he adds.

Anthony Hughes, finance account manager at Privilege Finance, the specialist energy from waste funder which financed the AD plant, explains that he has worked closely with Mr Sultan and his team since operations were handed over to them from the technology provider in February 2020.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed by the team’s resilience and approach to dealing with the challenges which have arisen.

“This plant consistently takes every opportunity to innovate, making sure they’re being the best they can be, and they’ve stayed true to that ethos throughout an immensely tricky year, enabling the continued production of green gas.”