On the Money - How biogas CHP can improve your green credentials and energy financials in Food & Drink

Posted by Clare Burns on 04-Aug-2015 09:00:00

Using biogas CHP will promote sustainability and improve your energy financials by generating renewable energy from food waste.


With Food & Drink manufacturers under extreme pressure to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint, every way of reigning in operating costs and improving profit margins needs to be considered.

Many energy managers will most probably have implemented energy efficiency improvements in their production facilities as a result of the Environment Agency’s ESOS scheme. They may be using future proofing initiatives, analysing areas of energy waste and, perhaps, installing low-carbon, energy efficient technologies such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP).

The ESOS scheme may be mandatory, but there is good reason to become compliant because renewable energy technologies that promote sustainability will provide large energy users with additional financial improvements. These technologies include wind energy, hydroelectricity, geothermal heat pumps, solar energy and bioenergy and, dependent on the size and location of the site, combinations of these have been used to achieve the optimal solution for energy savings.

Using food waste to save energy costs

Bioenergy should be of particular interest to Food & Drink manufacturers because they have access to a very important and tangible asset – organic food waste. Utilising biogas CHP, renewable electricity and heat energy is produced through the process of biodegradation of this organic waste substrate in an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to form biogas, followed by the combustion of this biogas in a CHP unit.

Manufacturers who generate their own on-site energy become more self-sufficient with a reliable and secure supply of energy, particularly relevant in times of increasing risk of UK blackouts. But the most significant benefit will be the reduction in energy costs by displacing conventional energy supplies.

Financial help is available

To meet the UK’s renewable energy targets, subsidies have been introduced to encourage the uptake of renewable energy. The subsidies – feed-in tariff (FiT), renewables obligation (RO) and renewable heat incentive (RHI) – provide a level of income for renewable electricity and heat energy, with additional income available for energy exported into the national electricity and gas grids.

The financial value of these subsidies depends on the type of technology used – with the only renewable CHP technology supported by the FiT scheme being AD.

Planning ahead

The subsidies for onshore wind and solar energy plants have been subject to  reductions in rates, and larger power plants are looking to participate in the longer-term Contract for Difference and Capacity Market mechanisms, rather than being totally reliant on income from the feed-in tariff.

Nevertheless, although subject to minor rates of degression, the subsidies still make biogas CHP an attractive proposition, especially for businesses which have organic waste that would otherwise be disposed of at landfill at a cost. Using food waste in this way also helps the drive towards 'zero waste to landfill', which reduces associated transport costs and landfill tax payments.

The bottom line

In summary, biogas CHP renewable energy provides Food & Drink manufacturers with:

  1. Energy cost savings, displacing the cost of conventional energy supplies
  2. Income from subsidies
  3. Income from selling excess generated electricity to the grid and excess heat energy to local users
  4. Income from selling upgraded biogas – biomethane – to either the grid or as renewable transport fuel
  5. Income from selling an AD by-product – digestate – as biofertiliser
  6. Reduced cost of solid waste and effluent disposal


You can improve your energy financials by:

  • Using biogas produced from food waste to generate renewable energy and save on energy costs
  • Taking advantage of financial incentive schemes
  • Generating additional revenue streams from selling renewable energy and its by-products

Find out how to reduce your energy use and meet your emissions targets by downloading our free eGuide: An Introduction to Biogas for the Energy Manager

An Introduction to Biogas for the Energy Manager

Topics: Food and Drink Manufacturing, Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

Clare Burns

Clare Burns is a technical marketer with many years’ experience in the energy arena, as well as in fashion, telecoms and education. Fluent in 3 languages, Clare has worked across Europe. She currently works for ENER-G, a UK manufacturer of carbon reducing, energy efficient products exporting its cogeneration technology across the globe.