Green Energy from On-site Digestion of Cheese Manufacturing Residues

Bracknell, 23rd May, 2016: Feedback from edie Live shows that British food and beverage manufacturing companies are realising that their production residues are a source of renewable energy rather than just an escalating cost.

Clearfleau's latest anaerobic digestion plant that is set to supply energy to First Milk's Aspatria creamery (sufficient to heat the equivalent of 4000 homes) in Cumbria was profiled in the On-site Solutions Theatre on Day 1. Their on-site anaerobic digestion is converting processing residues from cheese making into energy for use in the creamery.

First Milk's cheese creamery in the scenic Lake District is the largest on-site digestion plant in the European dairy processing sector. The first in Europe to feed gas into the grid, based only on treating residues from cheese making, without other non-dairy feedstocks.

When fully on stream, the bio-energy plant will reduce the site's fossil fuel consumption by at least 25%! The plant will generate up to 1000m3/ day of biogas. 80% will be upgraded for injection to the national gas grid, from where some of the gas will power the site's boilers.

Lake District Biogas ( was set up to manage the project based on external funding, allowing First Milk to concentrate on its core milk processing activity. Clearfleau was asked to design, build and operate the bio-energy plant because of its track record in on-site digestion.

The plant removes 7,000 tonnes of carbon per annum from the supply chain. Cleansed water is discharged to the nearby river Ellen (after phosphate removal). Also the plant is securing the site's future and eliminating frequent truck journeys and related fuel costs.

By adding value to its process residues the site is reducing its carbon footprint. This is a sector of the AD market, where the UK is leading technology development. Clearfleau is looking at a number of dairy projects in the UK and elsewhere in the European dairy sector.

Corporate expectations are changing across the food processing sector. Now industry leaders are backing the approach that Clearfleau have been promoting for the last 5 years. After the recent Paris Climate Change Summit, the CEO's of a number of leading global companies, including Unilever and Nestle stated: "We want the facilities where we make our products to be powered by renewable energy with nothing going to waste."

Proven benefits from the deployment of on-site digestion in the food processing sector include reduced energy costs, lower effluent treatment costs and cutting off-site disposal costs. For by-products like whey or fatty process residues revenue from AD can outweigh the return from other markets. Food processors can generate value by digesting residues with a better return on the investment than conventional treatment and disposal options.

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