Research by the Totnes Renewable Energy Society with local stakeholders in the town has shown that there is enough material available locally to run a profitable anaerobic digestion plant near Totnes to generate renewable energy.
Devon County Council and South Hams District Council waste managers are working with the Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) to assess the suitability of municipal food and garden wastes for use as a feedstock for the plant.
Commercial food wastes collected by Devon Contract Waste from local hotels and restaurants would also be included in the scheme. Calculations by TRESOC technology partner, Marches Biogas, show that an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant combining materials from these sources would generate enough electricity to power 390 homes.
TRESOC and The Dartington Hall Trust are in discussion to explore the potential for an AD plant situated on the estate. This would allow animal slurry from the Dartington farming operation to be included in the mix, and the digested material could then be returned the land as a valuable organic fertiliser. Anaerobic digestion plants produce as much useable heat energy as electricity, which could all be used at Dartington, adding to the profitability of the scheme.
TRESOC is able to raise funding for renewable energy projects from its members, ensuring that profits are retained within the local community. The project will also provide opportunities for local engineering businesses and sustainable employment at the plant.
Ian Bright, TRESOC, managing director, told the PRSD: “It is heartening to be working with local stakeholders to realise the vision of clean energy from anaerobic digestion, with all the benefits to the environment and the local economy.”