Circular economy solutions for rural Scotland
Is there a place for MicroAD in Scotland?
Anaerobic Digestion (AD) that deals with 20, 100 or 400 kg of organic waste per day and produces biogas helping to offset some or all of the energy needs of a small business, fuel a delivery van, or heat polytunnels etc. The Scottish Biofuel Programme in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Local Energy Scotland has set out to explore if AD can be commercially viable on a micro scale in Scotland.
The project aims to develop a full-scale demonstration of a range of MicroAD systems that could provide an integrated solution for energy generation and waste management.
Once realised, Micro-AD Scotland will present an option for communities to develop a holistic approach to sustainable development; helping them to reduce their environmental impact, producing local energy and jobs, and minimising the community carbon footprint. The project has been inspired by the experience of the LEAP project from London looking at optimising Urban Micro AD Networks and how this concept could be utilised in a Scottish rural context. (You can view LEAP presentation here)
We waste one fifth of the food we buy every year – This costs us economically and environmentally. 630,000 tonnes of food and drink is thrown away annually – costing Scots over £1billion and creating harmful greenhouse gases.
So, wasting food is best avoided. But what can be done usefully with unavoidable waste? How can disposal costs be minimised and the benefits maximised?
One technology known to address this problem is Anaerobic Digestion (AD). Anaerobic digestion (AD) turns food waste into clean renewable energy and fertiliser. It does this through the degradation of organic matter by microorganisms under oxygen-free conditions, producing biogas and nutrient-rich digestate. The technology is commonly used in a number of industries: agriculture, municipal waste, brewing and the water industry and convert organic waste and residues into biogas, a flexible fuel which can be stored and used to produce heat, electricity or vehicle fuel.
Micro AD rationale
The current AD landscape in Scotland is dominated by large merchant plants dealing with thousands of tonnes of organic waste per year and producing Mega Watts of energy. While large plants provide a great economic and environmental value for Scotland, it is not the whole solution.
Scotland is a largely rural country with disperse communities generating small volumes of organic waste. As most of the large merchant plants are localised in the central belt of Scotland rural communities cannot benefit fully from the technology. However, if deployed effectively in a small decentralised manner, AD could provide a local solution for energy generation and waste management.
MicroAD Scotland project aims;
• to show MicroAD in action in different settings, scales and using different business models (real feasibility)
• to identify the challenges and opportunities of MicroAD implementation (real feasibility)
• To offer excellent learning opportunities to help people better understand the benefits of recycling and food growing
The aims of the project will be realised by setting up several MicroAD trial sites to explore its viability in rural Scotland.
Potential Benefits of MicroAD for communities and businesses
MicroAD could contribute to the local;
• energy security
• local solution to organic waste management for businesses, farms, community gardens.
• Local production of renewable fertiliser from food waste digestate
• employment and training opportunities
Photo credit SEaB Energy Ltd