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GFD ramps up efforts to decarbonise Scottish farming

An East-Lothian-based company is doubling down on its efforts to help farmers across Scotland and the north of England cut their carbon emissions and diversify their income through on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD).

GFD is an experienced AD plant developer and thanks to a new partnership with leading European renewables investor SWEN Capital Partners, has launched a campaign to allow more farmers to benefit from biogas – at zero cost.


“Historically, one of the biggest issues preventing more farmers from getting involved in AD has been funding, with plants often being planned without any firm source of capital in place,” said GFD’s managing director, Marc McElhinney.


“With more than 14 years’ experience in the renewables sector, we’ve overcome that hurdle with a fully funded AD project proposal, backed by one of the biggest funders of renewable projects in Europe. We’re delighted to bring this to the market and help more farmers in Scotland and northern England diversify their income while decarbonising their farming operations.”


There are currently 369 biogas plants in the UK accepting agricultural feedstocks, making it the AD industry’s most common type of biogas plant. However, with agriculture estimated to have been the source of 48% of the UK’s methane emissions in 2020 – an increase of 1.3% in 2019 – and proposed Common Agricultural Policy replacement support schemes across all four nations embedding sustainability within actions for payment, the need for more environmentally-friendly farming solutions is only increasing.


To this end, GFD’s brand-new offering could not be more timely. Open to farms of all types and sizes that meet the company’s key criteria (as set out below), it promises to overcome traditional barriers to AD uptake – not just funding, but also grid access – making biogas viable for parts of the farming community that may previously have been excluded.


Mr. McElhinney continued: “We know that lots of farms are potentially producing suitable feedstocks for AD, such as manures, slurries, energy crops, and crop residues. Yet until now they’ve had no hope of benefitting from this, either due to a lack of funding, because they’re too far away from a connection to the gas grid, or both.


“Our innovative ‘hub and spoke’ approach to AD enables smaller on-farm sites with abundant feedstocks and no access to funding or gas grid connection points the chance to generate biogas. Any surplus that they can’t find a use for on-site will be transported to one of our larger ‘hub’ plants, which have good gas grid access.”


GFD’s flagship AD plant is currently under construction and due for completion in early 2024. Bangley Quarry Biogas Plant in East Lothian will produce 1100m3/hr biomethane – enough gas to supply a town the size of neighbouring Haddington, with more than 10,000 residents. The company aims to develop its first hub close to the Bangley facility over the coming year.


With its ability to generate renewable electricity, heat and gas; create a nutrient-rich biofertiliser in the form of digestate; and help farmers cut emissions through better slurry and manure management, AD offers multiple benefits to progressive farmers looking to diversify their income and cut their emissions. Additional advantages include improved soil health, crop rotation, income stability, and of course, income diversification.


“With previous hurdles like funding and grid connection now overcome, our offering is set to open up the benefits of AD to more farmers than ever before,” adds Marc. “If you meet most of our key criteria below, get in touch with us at info@gfdl.co.uk for an informal chat.”


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