Posted 5 June 2009
Harper Adams University College is embarking upon a £3 million-plus project to install a new renewable energy system at its Shropshire campus.
The anaerobic digester at Harper Adams, in Edgmond, near Newport, will generate heat and power from farm and food waste and is projected to offset campus carbon emissions more than three times over.
Furthermore, it will create jobs and enable knowledge of renewable energy technology to be shared with everyone from farmers to primary school pupils.
The University College is one of just three higher education institutions in England to have won a share of a pot of £10 million set aside for “transformational” projects under the new Revolving Green Fund, which was set up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Salix Finance. Further funds will come from the college itself and industry partners.
Estates and Facilities Manager Paul Moran, who made the bid to the Revolving Green Fund, said: “We are incredibly pleased that Harper Adams has been selected to receive this funding to make its AD plans a reality.
“AD is fully supported by Defra as an excellent method of generating renewable energy in rural areas. This waste-to-energy project meets many of the criteria set out in the Government’s 2007 Energy White Paper and has the potential to greatly benefit both Harper Adams and the wider community.
“Instead of being left to degrade in landfill or elsewhere, leaking methane into the atmosphere, food and farm waste can be digested in the AD unit and recycled into three useful by-products.
“The first is biogas, which will fuel a unit producing both heat and power. This, when combined with the output from our biomass unit and photovoltaic (solar-power) array, will make the northern half of the campus entirely self-sufficient for heat and power, meaning we will hopefully be sheltered from fluctuating energy prices for at least the next 10 years.
“The other products of the process are a liquid fertiliser and compost, which can be used for the college’s farm and grounds operations, reducing reliance on manufactured fertilisers. This will, in effect, bring the Harper food chain full circle.
“Our calculations show that the project will create ongoing carbon savings of 11,229 tonnes a year – which is 3.4 times the current emissions from campus buildings, meaning that Harper Adams will become more than three times carbon neutral.”
The Harper Adams AD plant will be available as a demonstration facility, showing farmers and other business people how they can use by-products of their existing work to generate power and an additional source of income.
Demonstration could also benefit a wider circle of learners – from Harper Adams students to primary school children, who will be able to see a full, sustainable food cycle in one location, from farm to fork and back to the farm again.
Dr David Llewellyn, Director of Corporate Affairs at Harper Adams, explained that the project is still in its very early stages. “Initial discussions have taken place with various partners and external agencies and now that the funding has been agreed we can enter the formal planning stage.
“In due course, we will invite members of the local community to the University College to learn about the project”.