Co. Armagh-based potato packer and processer, Wilson’s Country Ltd., is completing a £2 million investment programme in the development of an anaerobic digestion (AD) system.

Located within the site of the existing business, the new plant will provide 60% of the company’s annual electricity requirements.

Wilson’s Country managing director, Lewis Cunningham, commented: “The potato waste from the business will be used as the main feedstock for the AD operation.

“It has taken two years to get the project through near to completion. The last piece in the jigsaw puzzle was the establishment of an interconnector between the AD plant and the national grid.

“The new system is being gradually brought on-line over the next number of weeks. It will reach full operational capacity by the end of November,” he added.

Anaerobic digestion

The management team at Wilson’s Country has confirmed the key role of the new AD operation in helping to bring down the carbon footprint of the overall business.

Company CEO, Angus Wilson said: “We have been using certified ‘green electricity’ only within our entire operation for the past couple of years.

“This step, alone, has allowed us to reduce the carbon intensity of the company by 75%.

“Being able to generate a significant proportion of our green electricity on-site allows us to reduce our overall energy bill while, also making more efficient use of the waste streams produced within the business.

“It all adds to the sustainability of Wilson’s Country into the future,” he added.

AD is the conversion of organic feedstock by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen into biogas and digestate.

The biogas which is produced can be used to generate electricity and heat.

“We have a large electricity requirement on site. This is needed to power our controlled temperature potato stores, processing and potato packing operations,” Wilson continued.

“Given the nature of our business, the actual amounts of electricity that we need can vary a lot throughout the year.

“However, there will also be occasions when there will be surplus electricity generated on site, which can be exported to the grid.”

A proportion of the waste heat produced will be used to maintain the operational temperature of the AD operation itself.

“We are also looking at options which will allow us make best use of the residual heat from the AD process that will be available to us,” Wilson said.

“We are committed to securing a carbon ‘net zero’ position for the business over the coming years. The investment in the new AD plant is a critically important step in this process.”