DEFRA has today given the go-ahead to five projects that will demonstrate the benefits and possibilities of the latest anaerobic digestion technology.

Blackmore Vale Dairies, Biocycle South Shropshire, GWE Biogas, Staples Vegetables, and United Utilities and National Grid have all been awarded grant funding to demonstrate innovative, commercially viable projects that could be replicated throughout the UK.

The five projects, to be built between now and the end of March 2011 are being funded by the £10m Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme, administered by the Waste and Resources Action Programme.

“We need to rethink the way we deal with waste – we must see it as a resource, not a problem,” environment secretary Hilary Benn said. “In the UK we produce 100m 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.

“These first five projects will show other British businesses the benefits and possibilities of anaerobic digestion and help us become world leaders in this exciting new technology.”

Blackmore Vale Dairy in Dorset is an example of one of the projects. The company processes 35m litres of milk and has been working with a technology partner to develop a new way of processing the high strength effluents from the dairy process into electricity and heat. Some electricity will be sold back to the grid and the digestate produced will be processed further by a neighbouring compost facility.

Details on each project and its progress can be found at www.wrap.org.uk/etf