Newcastle chocolate factory generates £350,000 new annual income by turning confectionery waste into electricity

 

From left: Richard Gueterbock, Clearfleau, graduate engineer Hannah Whall, Amber Rudd MP and Andy Griffiths, project manager, at the Nestlé anaerobic-digestion power plant.
From left: Richard Gueterbock, Clearfleau, graduate engineer Hannah Whall, Amber Rudd MP and Andy Griffiths, project manager, at the Nestlé anaerobic-digestion power plant.

By DARA BUTTERFIELD

Amber Rudd, MP, Junior Energy Minister at DECC, recently opened the on-site anaerobic digestion (AD) power plant designed and built by Clearfleau at the Nestlé confectionery factory at Fawdon, Newcastle. 

And 12 months after commissioning, the plant is now converting 200,000 litres per day of feedstock into renewable energy. This feedstock includes wash waters from the site and 1,200 tonnes of residual bi-products and ingredients per annum. 

The biogas produced is fuelling a combined heat and power (CHP) engine, which produces 200kW of electricity, used in the confectionery production process. 

This is about 8% of the factory’s power requirements, cutting the annual electricity bill by about £100,000 per annum. In addition, the site has registered for the Feed in Tariff, and will receive annual payments of about £250,000 per annum.  

Previously, production residues from Fawdon, the former Rowntree factory, home to  gums, pastilles and Rolo’s, were discharged to sewer or fed to pigs. Following the installation of the AD plant, all bio-degradable production residues are now converted into renewable energy on the factory site.

In addition to saving on fossil fuel purchase plus the other savings and revenue benefits, the project has reduced the carbon footprint and environmental impact of the site.  The carbon footprint for anaerobic digestion is at least seven times smaller than for conventional aerobic treatment plants. 

The payback period on Nestlé’s investment in Clearfleau’s AD plant is predicted to be 4-5 years.

Clearfleau has also been working with Scotch whisky distilleries and a number of ‘Nestle-style AD-plant developments are in the pipeline.

After touring the site, Rudd said: “It’s fantastic to see first-hand how Nestlé’s innovative anaerobic digester at its Fawdon factory turns sweet waste products into clean green power. “Energy from waste has an important part to play in our low carbon energy mix and that’s why we have schemes in place to encourage organisations to get on board.”

Richard Gueterbock, Director, Clearfleau, commented: “Nestlé’s on-site digestion plant is a great example of how food companies can make better use of production residues to reduce their carbon footprint.  It is very encouraging that Nestlé chose to work with an emerging British company to build this plant. 

“We are pleased that the Government recognise the need to develop a British technology supply base for the renewables sector, creating jobs and hopefully future export opportunities for innovative technology.”

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