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Monsal completes planning phase for food anaerobic digestion plant

Monsal, an environmental technology company backed by Matrix Private Equity Partners in 2007, has completed the first phase of planning, pre-design, permitting and support services for a food anaerobic digestion and renewable energy contract in March, Cambridgeshire. 

The project will generate sufficient electricity to supply 1,500 homes, or approximately six per cent of the total demand for March, including that from industry and commerce.

The project is for Local Generation, a subsidiary of Lifecrown Investments, and will be located on land owned by Lifecrown and adjacent to Local Generation’s sister company Fenmarc Produce, a vegetable food packager and processor. Monsal expects to deliver the turnkey AD contract once permits are in place in late 2009 and the project will progress into the construction phase in early 2010.

Local Generation will help Fenland play a big part in meeting the UK target of ten per cent of power generated from renewable sources by 2010 and the EU target of 20 per cent of all energy from renewables by 2020.

Food waste from a range of food businesses and some potato waste from Fenmarc will be processed and recycled by the latest Monsal technology to provide high grade compost and generate renewable energy from biogas. This will divert food waste from landfill and lower emissions of harmful greenhouse gases in the process.

The plant is expected to produce up to 2.5MW of electricity and heat from a combination of potato waste produced at the Fenmarc site and other locally sourced food waste, which currently goes to landfill. Local Generation intends to sell both the power and heat to local homes and businesses, including Fenmarc. In addition to these outputs, the plant will produce up to 12,000 tonnes a year of high quality soil conditioner suitable for improving local Fenland soils. The plant will create some ten to 15 new jobs once operational and is the largest plant planned in the region.

Mark Harrod, chairman of Lifecrown, says: “The success of our group companies in Fenland for 40 years has been founded on the strategic location and the skills and work ethic of the local workforce. In making this further substantial investment I am confident that these factors will, once again, get us off to a flying start. This project addresses two of today’s most pressing problems; climate change and food waste management. By treating energy as a precious resource we can maximise value for all concerned.”

Aidan Cumiskey, Monsal’s managing director, says: “This is a great result for Local Generation and Cambridgeshire. Lifecrown are a forward thinking group and the plant will neatly integrate local biowaste recycling with on site renewable energy production and create additional employment in the Cambridgeshire/Peterborough area. Based on our latest technology the plant can treat a large variety of biowaste streams including kitchen and household food waste and convert them to renewable energy. This is our first major success with the food sector and we expect continued uptake as a ‘greening’ of the UK food industry supply chain takes place in the coming years.”

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