Sunday, April 29, 2012

Round Up of UK Government Actions in March-April 2012: AD Planning Requirement Relaxed, Feed-in Tariff Scheme Rates Increased, Bioenergy Strategy Published

With the announcement of economic figures last week, which show that the UK has slipped back into recession, many are asking what the coalition government is doing to stimulate the economy at a time when clearly everything conceivably possible which might boost business, and benefit the nation, should be being done by them.

Thankfully, the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas industry, is being recognised as one such case, and there have been some really positive moves forward by the UK government in the form of the announcements which we have listed below:

Rural Planning Requirement Relaxed for Small-scale Anaerobic Digestion

A number of renewable energy technologies including anaerobic digestion have received a boost following revisions to the English Town and Country Planning Order.

From April 2012 small-scale energy installations in England built on agricultural or forestry land will be exempt from planning permission under amendments to the Order.

The amendment means that planning permission will no longer be required for farmers and landowners who install anaerobic digesters or any associated storage buildings with a ground area of less than 465 square metres on farming or non-domestic land.

The changes could result in a significant boost to the rural economy by removing legislative red tape, reducing energy bills for farmers and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

See the statutory instrument here:

Feed-in Tariff Scheme Rates Increased for Anaerobic Digestion from 2 April 2012

Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) subsidy rates for electricity generated through anaerobic digestion have today been increased in line with the retail price index.

The tariffs are now as follows:

For a digester less than 250kW in size the rate is now 14.7 p/kWh
For a digester between 250 and 500kW in size the rate is 13.7 p/kWh
For a digester between 500kW and 5MW in size the rate is 9.9 p/kWh

For more information visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change FiTs web page

UK Bioenergy Strategy Published

The UK Government published its Bioenergy Strategy on 26April 2012. Bioenergy is expected to play a key role in meeting the UK's 2020 renewable energy target as well as longer term carbon reduction targets to 2030 and 2050. But the Government also recognise that bioenergy is not automatically low carbon, renewable or sustainable: alongside its many positives, bioenergy carries risks.

The UK Bioenergy Strategy, published jointly by DECC, Defra, DfT sets a framework of principles to guide UK bioenergy policy in a way that secures its benefits, while managing these risks. The strategy’s overarching principle is that bioenergy must be produced sustainably and that there is a role for UK Government to steer sustainable development of bioenergy in the UK and as far as possible internationally.

A number of organisations provided supporting evidence for the report including bioeconomy consultants NNFCC, who predict the UK anaerobic digestion industry is likely to have an installed capacity of 320-580 MWth by 2020 and support up to 2,500 jobs with more than half being permanent.

For more information please visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change Bioenergy Strategy web page

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chicken Barn with Heat from Anaerobic Digestion Plant is More Profitable Than Increasing Dairy Herd

At Bernd Mueller’s farm in Bockhorn, North West Germany, his investment in a new chicken barn would normally set him back with a €15,000 annual heating bill, but thanks to the efficiency of his biogas plant, this expenditure will be zero. What is even better is the fact that his 40,000 chickens will provide him with the manure he’ll mix with maize to produce and sell 725kW per hour of renewable energy produced every day.

This is all a far cry from just five years ago when Bernd was considering whether to expand his dairy cattle herd in order to try and make his farm more profitable.

“Buying more cows just didn’t compare to the potential I could see in biogas,” said Bernd.

“It has taken some time to go through the planning stages and fine-tune everything, but it has all been very worth it”.

Bernd Muller checks that all is well with his biogas process
Initially, Bernd used only maize as his feedstock, but now finds that a combination of 90% maize and 10% chicken manure produces much more gas. This increased biogas production which can be viewed at a glance via the monitoring system on his computer screen.

Now at this point, those that have some knowledge of the AD process will be slightly puzzled, as chicken manure would be unlikely to raise the gas production rate very much, given that it has a fairly low biogas potential compared with maize. Well, you would be right about that, and the reason for the increase is also down to efficient mixing getting the most out of the new manure feed.

Landia’s mixers help boost farmer’s biogas

Look a bit deeper into the biogas production rate and you will find out that at the heart of the biogas operation are three Landia PowerMix side entry mixers, positioned at the bottom, middle and top of the 21m diameter, 9.8m high digester.

Utilizing recirculated liquid from the continuous process with a total of 37 tonnes of maize and three tonnes of chicken manure per day, Bernd produces electricity for use on the farm, with ample left-over to sell to Germany’s national energy grid.  His fully automated system can also pass heat on to neighbours and maintain digester temperatures when necessary in winter, as well as service the new chicken barn, and a further one planned.

“Good mixing is essential to the reliability and productivity of my biogas system,” says Bernd.

“Landia’s mixers do an excellent job and haven’t given me any problems at all”, he added.

Maize for Bernd Muller's biogas plant 
It also hasn’t escaped Bernd’s attention that the Landia mixers minimise energy consumption.  Landia explains that, correctly sized mixing system allows adjustment of mixing operation times to types and quantities of feedstock, dry matter content and gas production. High methane percentage not only depends on the feedstock mix but very much on good mixing. It is the most essential tool for mechanical process optimization in the digester and can be controlled by the biogas plant’s monitoring system.

Trends are duly noted through the monitoring system probes, and should any of the monitored parameters look set to adversely affect the process, an alarm is raised.  It is also important to ensure that the gas the plant produces is at all times cleaned, and then cooled from 41 degrees to 8 degrees, before it enters the big 12 cylinder DEUTZ engine (which is connected to the electrical turbine).

In addition to all the benefits from their biogas plant, the farm also gains a greatly enhanced digestate product for use as a fertilizer – a proportion of which is sold on.

In addition, the entire process is virtually odour-free.

Efficiency is, as reported by Landia, evidently extremely high at Bernd’s farm.  Last year a 97% electricity production time rate was recorded, with just 3% of output lost during engine maintenance.  They are currently receiving a fixed price for electricity, and that regular income clearly helps with budgeting. Bernd’s profits have the potential to rise even further, Landia report, if the farm management reduces the balance of maize which is bought-in, by growing more themselves. Currently, only 40% is produced on the farm against the 60% balance which is bought from other farms.

01948 661 200

Friday, April 20, 2012

Harper Adams Anaerobic Digester – Leading the Way in Sustainable Energy

Image: Harper Adams College
Harper Adams University College in Shropshire is leading the way in creating and utilising sustainable energy through a £3 million plus renewable power system.

The rural focused college which has been five times winner of the Sunday Times University Guide 'University College of the Year' was one of three higher education institutions in England that are sharing a £10 million fund set aside for 'transformational projects under the Higher Education Funding Council for England's Revolving Green Fund.

The institution has put this towards an Anaerobic Digester plant which was constructed in 2011 and began generating power and heat towards the end of April the same year.

Recycling landfill bound waste

The plant uses 12,000 tonnes of food waste which would otherwise end up at landfill sites and 11,000 tonnes of dairy and pig slurry from farms. When opened it was anticipated that the digester would offset campus carbon emissions more than three times over. The digester produces renewable electricity and provides the campus with a highly effective waste management system.

The system also reduces the University College's reliance on manufactured fertilisers as the waste that is digested in it is recycled into liquid fertiliser and compost which can then be used for the farm and grounds operations.

Award winning

The Harper Adams has won accolades for this system at the Times Higher Education Awards where they won the Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development Award at the end of 2011. The prestigious event at London's Grosvenor Hotel was compered by Rob Brydon and the award was in recognition of all the hard work that went into making the anaerobic digester a success.

One of the judges Patrick Finch who is bursar and director of estates at the University of Bristol said of the system: “Harper Adams has produced a ground breaking project. While this has been trialled before, the judges felt that the work on developing a system that would produce a step change in carbon management at the college had the potential for wider application in the higher education community and in the farming sector. Energy and carbon savings, reduction in waste to landfill and release of farmland for growing food crops together present a compelling case.”

First year success

Twelve months on since the system first started producing renewable energy the college is now engaging with local schools to make further developments. Leftover food from school dinners from four county schools will be recycled at the plant and turned into power and energy at the college. This venture is part of a pilot scheme which if successful then waste from all schools in the Shropshire area could be sent to the plant.

The schools in the pilot are using specialist waste contractor Cartwrights. The local contractor has also benefited from external funding in the form of the Waste & Resources Action Programme to help them convert an existing bin lorry into one that would be suitable to carry food waste safely.

James Wood who is the college's energy plant manager said: “The anaerobic digester has now been operational for a year, and we are all delighted to be gaining interest and support from the local community. We really hope that the schools partnership is a success and can be rolled out across the county.”

Community spirit

The Harper Adams project is a fabulous example of the community all pulling together to produce a system that benefits the county. The college also uses an eco vehicle around the plant which carries the slogan “A cleaner solution without the pollution”. The slogan was chosen after the college ran a staff competition to come up with a catchy slogan for the vehicle which is to be used around campus collecting recycling and other jobs.

The college saw the competition of really getting the staff behind the plant project and getting them interested and involved in the sustainability of it. The campus uses electric vehicles around campus as another way of the college being eco friendly.

The winner of the competition was rewarded with an energy monitor worth £40 and the honour of having their slogan added to the eco vehicle and therefore being part of campus history.

In order to find out about the fantastic ways in which Harper Adams University College are helping the environment through all their sustainable activities visit

Izzy Harrington is a freelance writer from England who writes technology articles covering everything from Tempur-Pedic comparison to future technologies.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Case Study on Commercial Viability and Funding for US Anaerobic Digestion/ Biogas Facilities - Download Available

Graphic by Qitargoa via

New case study investigates the commercial viability and funding structure for Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas facilities in the USA

Zero Waste Energy and Harvest Power are just two of the innovators taking advantage of Anaerobic Digestion as a means of recovering value from waste. These companies are amongst a recent batch of well-structured companies that have secured long term agreements to make this process a reality according to a recent abstract released by Renewable Waste Intelligence.

The potential of anaerobic digestion is significant. With a sound scientific profile from European projects and an increasing appetite for more sustainable waste management options, there are trailblazing projects springing up all over the USA, often backed by strong local support, waste management money and European project developers.

The primary concern for these innovators has increasingly become one of commercial viability rather than a need to prove the science. With the payback on larger facilities upwards of 10 years and the initial investment substantial – these projects are taking longer than expected to materialize. Plus they require a very long term approach by the waste managers at a local level who have to be prepared to commit to long term contracts (and therefore a fairly rigid pricing structure).

The abstract that has been released by Renewable Waste Intelligence looks at both the pros and cons of AD as a means of tackling waste management for organics. But in addition, there is some consideration given to the funding structure of Anaerobic Digestion facilities with a case study to give more detail. Greg Shipley (CEO of Waste to Energy LLC) said of the report, “'Renewable Waste Intelligence' has created a well written and informative report. This, in combination with the detailed case studies would be valuable to those seeking proof of viability of investing in renewable waste.”

The abstract can be found online through Renewable Waste Intelligence. To download the free copy of the abstract click here and it will be sent straight to your inbox.

If you need more information, then you can contact Oliver Saunders on or +44 (0) 207 375 7185 or Freephone US 1800 814 3459 ext 7185 to find out more about the report and also the work they are doing in Anaerobic Digestion.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pig Farms to Become Less Stinky Down Under Due to Covered Anaerobic Pond Design

It is good to see that an innovative biogas system, developed at NIWA Hamilton, has been embraced by the Australian pork industry. It provides an alternative electricity and heating source and was developed by New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Personally,


I am surprised that these lagoon systems would make sense in the cool New Zealand climate, much better that the Aussies use this technology which should work well in their hot climate. Read-on for more about this development, and also I encourage you, as always, to visit the original article by following the link which is provided below the article:

The Australian pork industry association, Australian Pork Limited (APL), has collaborated with NIWA and several pork producers to design and build covered anaerobic pond based biogas systems. So far, four systems are currently at various stages of construction.

NIWA worked in collaboration with the New Zealand Pork Industry Board and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) on the New Zealand prototype.

NIWA identified that anaerobic digestion in covered waste ponds holds significant potential to reduce odour and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while providing biogas as a local energy resource.

Australian pig farmers are incentivised to use the technology to reduce farm GHG emissions. The recently introduced Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) allows farmers and land managers to earn carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector. These credits can then be sold to businesses with an emission liability, such as fossil fuel power plants or chemical processors.

"The system makes good sense," says NIWA research engineer Stephan Heubeck, who has driven the development of the technology. "Anaerobic digestion in covered ponds holds significant potential to reduce odour and greenhouse gas emissions from the farming sector. At farm scale, this energy resource can be used for heating and/or to generate electricity."

The first pond based biogas system that NIWA designed was a purpose-built 7000m3 covered anaerobic pond for Steve Lepper's piggery in Taranaki.

NIWA's simple and low cost design has proven effective and reliable over the last two years. At the Lepper piggery, the biogas is used for electricity generation and heating in a combined heat and power unit (CHP).

As well as providing the majority of the piggery's electricity needs during daytime, waste heat from the generator is used in a reticulated hot water system for keeping young pigs warm.

Steve Lepper expects to recoup his $120,000 investment ($30,000 of which came from an EECA grant) within three years.

For additional information:


View the original article here

Want an Anaerobic Digestion Plant and Need Funding? Try UK WRAP £10M Fund

Are you interested in building an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant but just haven’t got the funding?

The organisation, WRAP, Working together for a world without waste, has a £10 million anaerobic digestion fund to loan out. It has just awarded its first loan from Ad Fund and is now looking for more applicants to award more money out. It awarded a one off £800,000 loan to Wilshire-based company Malaby Biogas, to construct and commission a new anaerobic digestion plant on the site of a redundant 12-acre smallholding.

The money will be added to other funding secured by the company for the AD plant, including support from Clydesdale Bank. Building of the new £5 million plant located at Bore Hill Farm to the south of Warminster, Wiltshire is already underway. Malaby, and its technology provider Marches Biogas, hope that commissioning will begin soon.

“Feedstock for the plant will be non-packed food waste supplied by a new commercial collection operator with additional material potentially coming from other commercial and industrial food waste providers within the local area,” explained Malaby director Thomas Minter.

“ Initially the plant will process around 17,000 tonnes of waste a year and we’d hope to be able to handle up to 20,000 tonnes at full capacity.”

The plant is expected to generate 4.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, the equivalent required to power 1,000 homes. Around seven per cent of this is likely to be used to power the AD plant itself, and any excess that is generated will be sold on to National Grid.

“Malaby is the first of what we hope will be a number of companies to benefit from the AD loan fund and it is excellent to see such good progress being made at the Wiltshire plant,” said WRAP director Steve Creed.

“We’re currently considering a number of other applications and the new round of loan awards for 2012 has just begun, so we’d encourage anyone who is interested in the fund to get in touch with us.”
Defra Minister Lord Taylor said: “The energy that can be created from food waste that would otherwise lie rotting in landfill is astonishing. This £800,000 investment from our £10 million anaerobic digestion fund will help this new plant to be built so we can harness that energy to power our towns and cities and remove a cause of greenhouse gas emissions from landfill.”

A maximum of £10 million is available through individual loans ranging from £50,000 to £1 million, over a five-year period. Applicants for the current round can be submitted before April 30. Lord Henley said: “The Loan Fund builds on the Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan to develop a strong and vibrant Ad industry. It will help to reduce the amount of food sent to landfill and give more businesses the opportunity to use AD to produce their own power and electricity.”

Marcus Gover, Director of the Closed Loop Economy at WRAP, said: “ “Across the UK, there are now AD facilities capable of managing 656,500 tonnes of organic waste each year, diverting waste from landfill, generating renewable energy and creating green jobs. The 300,0000 tonnes of extra capacity we expect this fund will create will bring the UK’s AD processing capacity close to 1 million tonnes per year.
“Ad is a reliable, safe and profitable resource efficiency process supported by the Government, industry, local authorities and communities.”

WRAP, which can provide a great deal of information in the field it deals with, and much like the Coalition Against Drug Abuse, provides information on its subject, has a finite loan pool and will select projects for funding through a competitive process with those applications most strongly meeting their criteria being offered a loan.

If you have a project to develop AD processing capacity and are finding it difficult to obtain asset finance from the usual commercial sources, WRAP may be able to help. So why not apply it worth a shot. The Anaerobic Digestion Loan Fund (ADLF) aims to support 300,000 tonnes of annual capacity to divert food waste from landfill by 2015.

The ADLF will offer direct financial support to organisations that are interested in building AD capacity in England in order to provide digestate of sufficient quality for a variety of UK markets and to generate renewable energy in the form of biogas through the diversion of food and other organic resources.

(Guest Author: Imogen of the Coalition Against Drug Abuse)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stuttgart, Anerobic Digestion Pilot Plant Converts Fruit and Veggie Waste into Natural Gas for Cars

This post is all about the pilot plant in Stuttgart that makes biogas out of waste from wholesale markets, and in Europe these days there isn't a great deal of innovation or news in that. What I found of interest though is that:

1. The biogas is from the outset being used to provide the feed for a high quality cleaned up form of biogas which is called natural gas once the impurities have been removed and it has been suitably compressed. This further innovation has really taken off this year and it makes a great deal of sense to use this to power vehicles, rather than just generating electricity from the biogas.

(The video below is included as an example of German biogas technology, on another project.)


2. We have to wait to almost the end of the article to be told the other aspect which I feel is worthy of note, and that is the news that energy company Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), is to use membranes to process the biogas produced. Until now, the established method for cleaning the biogas has been the traditional one which uses chemical methods and quite a lot of use is made of water. The use of a membrane will be very good news for Anaerobic Digestion Plant operators, providing it is simple to use, reasonably low in energy consumption and initial capital costs, and reliable.

Now I will let you read the extract from the article included below. Please also visit the original website via the link we have provided below, and by doing that you will help support the project:

Some readers might remember the Mr. Fusion unit in Back to the Future that Doc Brown fills with household garbage, including a banana peel and some beer, to power the iconic time-traveling DeLorean. While we're still some way from such direct means of running our cars on table scraps, researchers at Fraunhofer have developed a pilot plant that ferments the waste from wholesale fruit and veg markets, cafeterias and canteens to make methane, which can be used to power vehicles.

Given the rising oil prices in recent years, many drivers have been converting their cars to run on natural gas. But like oil, natural gas is a fossil fuel with limited reserves whose price has also risen in recent years and is likely to continue to do so. Fraunhofer's development provides an alternative way to obtain natural gas, not from Earth's reserves, but from fruit and vegetable waste.

The pilot plant is part of the ETAMAX project and has been constructed adjacent to Stuttgart's wholesale market. Due to begin operation in the next few months, the plant generates methane by using various microorganisms that act on the food waste in a two-stage digestion process that lasts just a few days.

"The waste contains a lot of water and has a very low lignocellulose content, so it's highly suitable for rapid fermentation," says Dr.-Ing. Ursula Schließmann, head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB).

Because the microorganisms require constant environmental conditions to function and the waste can vary in composition every day - some days it will contain a high proportion of acidic citrus fruits, on others it might have more cherries, plums or lettuce - the researchers must adjust the pH value through substrate management.

"We hold the waste in several storage tanks, where a number of parameters are automatically calculated - including the pH value. The specially designed management system determines exactly how many liters of waste from which containers should be mixed together and fed to the microorganisms," explains Schließmann.

Enhancing the environmental benefits of the plant, everything the plant generates can be utilized, including the liquid filtrate and the sludgy residue that can't be broken down any further by the microorganisms. The filtrate water, which contains nitrogen and phosphorous, is used as a culture medium for the cultivation of algae at a second sub-project in Reutlingen. And while two thirds of the biogas produced at the Stuttgart plant is methane, around 30 percent is carbon dioxide, which is also used to cultivate the algae. Meanwhile, the remaining sludgy fermentation residue is delivered to the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, where it is also converted into methane.

In addition to Fraunhofer, the ETAMAX project also involves the participation of energy company Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), which uses membranes to process the generated biogas, and Daimler, which supplies a number of experimental vehicles designed to run on natural gas. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has funded the five-year project to the tune of six million euros (approx. US$7.97 million). If the various components mesh together as hoped, similar plants could be built where large quantities of organic waste can be found.

View the original article here

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jobs: AD Process Technician Needed by Malaby Biogas, Warminster, Somerset UK

Malaby Biogas are approaching the operational phase of their state-of-the-art Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in Warminster, close to Frome and on the Wiltshire/Somerset border.

As a result they are keen to grow the existing team and recruit an AD Process Technician. With the plant approaching the operational phase, this is an exciting opportunity to join a small and innovative company in an increasingly popular industry, which offers a sustainable alternative to landfill waste.

Malaby Biogas is Warminster's newest greentech business

The role:

To efficiently assist with the day-to-day operations of a new AD plant. The plant operates automatically 24/7 but the role will be mainly normal working hours with scheduled weekend duties. This is both a technical and compliance-focused role, as well as an activity which will require physical exertion and some manual work. The AD Process Technican will control the flow and processing of food waste, in a state-of-the-art facility.

You will be responsible for diagnosing operational issues and undertaking corrective action where necessary. You will use initiative and an analytical approach to monitor gauges, meters and control panels, using your judgement to ensure an efficient and effective process. The role will also involve being responsible for loaders, hoppers, pumps, engines and generators, ensuring safe and continuous operations. Record-keeping is critical, and you will keep accurate and detailed records of plant settings and outputs, as well as adhering to health and safety and environmental compliance. The role will have a degree of responsibility for the critical control points within the process.

The person:

We are looking for someone with a fairly unique set of skills, but who principally has a flexible approach to working within a small and focused team in a "start-up" environment. You will be comfortable working autonomously in a responsible and technical role, with a high degree of initiative and a "can do" attitude. A meticulous approach to operations, monitoring and records is essential. At the same time, a willingness to get your hands dirty is also important as without your input on a day-to-day basis the plant will not function effectively.

Educated to a minimum of GCSE or equivalent in Maths and English, the ideal candidate will also be able to demonstrate a strong analytical mind and good IT skills.

The ideal candidate might come from a waste management, engineering or sciences background having worked in a similar process-driven role. Alternatively, the role might also suit someone from a farming or agricultural background looking for a more technically-challenging opportunity.

Due to the growth of this innovative sector, this role offers real and rapid career progression for the right candidate.

To apply please send your CV to: recruitment@malabybiogascom or call Thomas Minter for an informal chat on 01985 211216.

View the original article here

New Biogas Plant is Apple's New Development and Not A New Data Centre Says Wired News

Apparently construction seen starting at Apple's Maiden data center. hs been causing industry rumors Apple was seen to be building something new at its Maiden, North Carolina, data center, but the uber-secretive company wouldn’t say what it was. So, the Wired Blog took to the skies to find out.


(Work which has now started is not visible on this older video, nevertheless you can get a feel for the scale of the development from the video. above. This is truly great publicity for Anaerobic Digestion, and biogas production from it.)

Overhead photos shown on their website, taken last month show Apple’s $1 billion data center and two adjacent areas where Apple has started new construction. In the IT industry rumors were flying aound which suggested that Apple was building a second data center beside the first, but judging from their photos and from county building permits Wired says it is most likely that this is not the case. In fact, in all likelihood, the two construction areas will house the new-age biogas fuel cell plant and the massive solar array Apple will use to help power the original facility.

The Maiden data center is home to Apple’s iCloud service, a way for consumers and businesses to store files, photos, and other data on the web and use it across a wide array of devices. The data facility itself cost $500 million, but Apple has pledged to spend $1 billion on the site over the next decade. Opened for business around the beginning of the year, the Maiden center is just one of the many custom-designed data centers the giants of the web are building to supply their ever-growing array of web services. Google has built several of its own dedicated data centers across the world, and the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo aren’t far behind.

The iCloud has been growing like gangbusters since it was introduced last fall, and when Apple pulled a few construction permits early last month, that prompted speculation that the company may be doubling down and building a second data center on the site. But clearly, that’s not the case — though Apple is starting to build a new data center on the other side of the country, right next door to Facebook’s massive facility in Prineville, Oregon.

To power its data center, Apple is building both a biogas fuel cell plant and a solar array.

Apple’s North Carolina permits describe a 21,030-square-foot building. That’s bigger than your typical Apple Store, but not nearly big enough for the sort of data center Apple would build. The company’s existing Maiden facility is 500,000 square feet.

More likely, the new building will house the 24-200 kilowatt fuel cell systems that could be partially operational as soon as June. This plant is noteworthy, as it will be one of the largest such plants in the U.S. and it’s the biggest such project built by a data-center operator.

But judging from our photos, even when the biogas plant goes live, Apple will still have room to squeeze a second massive data center into the spot — should the need arise. Maiden Town Planner Todd Herms told us where the solar array was being installed, but he didn’t know if the new building next to the data center was the biogas plant or not.

A second, somewhat sobering observation is that Apple had to mow down an awful lot of trees in order to build its environmentally friendly 100-acre solar array, right across the street from its data center. You can see the before and after photos here:

Before construction, there were 100 green acres on the other side of Maiden's Startown Road.

Now it's been razed, to make way for Apple's solar array !

Apple solar array effort has already come under fire from a data center guru James Hamilton at rival Amazon, who said last month that it just may not make sense to use so much land for a solar array that may end up generating a fairly small fraction of the data center’s power. Apple bills its solar farm as a 20-megawatt array, but that represents the solar farm’s peak capacity on a sunny day. In reality, it will probably produce less power than the 4.8-megawatt biogas facility, according to Gary Cook, an IT analyst at Greenpeace.

View the original article here

Those that know the Anaerobic Digestion process will not be surprised by he cirticism being made here of the capability of the solar array, compared with the AD Plant, and it is good to see the comparison of AD/ biogas production to produce power capacity overall being recognised. It could also have been added that the biogas plant will be able to meet demand for power when it is really needed, that being at night when it is really cold, as well as in the daytime.