SSE completes Scotland’s largest AD facility

17 June 2011

An anaerobic digestion facility described by its developers as the “first of its kind in the UK” is set to become fully operational later this month at Barkip, near Beith in North Ayrshire.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is the first major utilities company in the country to commit to the construction and operation of an anaerobic digestion biogas plant.

The plant, which is Scotland’s largest combined organic waste treatment and energy generating facility, has been developed by SSE on land leased from William Tracey Ltd. The facility has the capacity to process up to 75,000 tonnes-a-year of residual waste and produce up to 2.5 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity, contributing to both Scotland’s renewable energy and landfill diversion targets.

SSE's Barkip AD facility is set to become fully operational later this month
SSE's Barkip AD facility is set to become fully operational later this month

William Tracey Ltd has a contract to supply some of the feedstock material for the plant - providing a recycling outlet for their customers, but the plant will also take in material from other customers.

The plant operation is co-managed by Zebec Biogas Limited which has enzyme and biological process expertise. The Barkip facility will use a high temperature thermophilic two stage digestion process supplied by Danish technology supplier Xergi.

Biogas will be captured and used to fuel engines which will generate renewable electricity. This technology, already in wide use across mainland Europe, has been developed further to mean that the Barkip plant will be the first of its kind to incorporate a novel digestate processing stage This will see the heat being captured from the generation process and being used to concentrate the liquid fraction of the digestate into a nutrient rich liquid fertiliser.


Zero Waste Scotland confirmed its largest investment to date in anaerobic digestion with an investment of £2.2million for the Barkip facility from Zero Waste Scotland’s Organics Capital Grants programme, which funds new food and garden waste recycling facilities in Scotland.

When this funding was confirmed in May 2010, Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This major investment helps place anaerobic digestion at the heart of waste policy and emphasises the importance of renewable energy. The £2.2 million grant to SSE demonstrates a robust commitment by the Scottish Government to invest in the future of a zero waste Scotland.

“The Barkip plant will be the largest of its kind in Scotland and will divert a staggering 37,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill each year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and recover value from resources that would otherwise be wasted”.

SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said: “Biogas has the potential to be one of the most important new generations renewable and sustainable energy solutions available to us, capturing the energy contained in waste. SSE is excited about entering the biogas market, which we believe offers opportunities beyond on-site electricity generation to include connections to the gas distribution network in the future.

“This new project will enable SSE to gain experience in owning and operating this technology so we are well placed to bring that knowledge to future projects in Scotland.”

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According to SSE, the project is evidence of its commitment to helping to deliver the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets. SSE is already investing in over £100 million to enable Glasgow city achieve its goal to become one of Europe’s leading sustainable cities. And, SSE  has opened a centre of excellence for renewable energy marking the opening of a new economic opportunity for Scotland and the UK as a whole.