The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has selected five anaerobic digestion projects to provide grants under its GBP10 million Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme. Anaerobic digestion breaks down organic matter, such as animal manure and food waste to produce biogas. These projects have been selected as they will demonstrate technology and will be able to show the benefits of anaerobic digestion to a range of industries.

The five projects selected were:

Biocycle South Shropshire;

Blackmore Vale Dairies;

GWE Biogas Ltd;

Staples Vegetables; and

United Utilities and National Grid.

The five projects, to be built between now and the end of March 2011 were administered by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “We need to rethink the way we deal with waste – we must see it as a resource, not a problem. In the UK we produce 100 million tonnes of food and other organic waste every year that we could be using to create enough heat and energy to run over two million homes – that’s five Birminghams.

“This new technology will provide a source of renewable energy while reducing methane emissions from agriculture and landfill by diverting organic waste, especially food waste, from landfill.

Liz Goodwin, Waste and Resources Action Programme chief executive officer, said: These projects are truly ground-breaking and will be used to show how cutting edge technology can work in practice. Between them, they demonstrate how anaerobic digestion can help the UK efficiently meet the challenges of reducing carbon emissions, increasing renewable energy generation and improving sustainable food production. We will use what we learn from these projects to help develop the industry across the UK.

The Defra-managed Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme forms part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s National Environmental Transformation Fund.