The Harper Adams University College has pledged to expand its sustainable energy use with the new plant.

The anaerobic digester at the campus in Edgmond, near Newport, has been in planning for two-and-a-half-years and the turf cutting ceremony yesterday (August 4) marked the beginning of construction.

The plant is expected to be generating heat and power from farm and food waste by the end of March 2011 and the university aims to offset its carbon emissions by more than three times.

Harper Adams is one of three higher education institutions in England to have won a share of £10 million set aside for ‘transformational’ projects under the Revolving Green Fund- which was set up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Salix Finance.

Principal David Llewellyn said: “We are incredibly pleased Harper Adams has been able to use this funding to make its AD plans a reality and we are excited to be here with partners today to finally start work on the site.

“Food and farm waste can be digested in the AD unit and recycled into three useful by-products instead of being left to degrade in landfill or elsewhere, leaking methane into the atmosphere.

“Biogas will fuel a unit producing both heat and power meaning we will be sheltered from fluctuating energy prices for at least the next 10 years and will make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions for our campus.”

The ceremony brought together all the major partners in the scheme including BiogenGreenfinch, which is designing the plant, energy company E.ON and local contractor Adonis Construction.

Luke Walsh

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