Leading recycling, resource and waste management company, FCC Environment has harvested its first crop of biomass fuel grown on two of its restored landfill and quarry sites.
The 30 hectare sites in Darrington, West Yorkshire and Calverton, Nottinghamshire were sown with a fast-growing annual miscanthus grass crop which is expected to yield up to 300 tonnes of carbon neutral biomass fuel annually once the crop is established. The crop will be sent to Drax power station to be used as a fuel to generate low carbon electricity.
Miscanthus grass is one of the main preferred crops for biomass use on restored sites as the plants’ deep rhizomes (root system) give structure to the soil by adding biodegradable matter and aerating it. This is a vital process for sites where the long-term restoration plan is to return the land to agricultural use.
With over 200 hectares on 24 former landfill sites currently in production, FCC Environment is taking a leading role in the UK resource management sector in utilising former landfill sites in this way. Mark Pailing, senior restoration and energy crops manager at FCC Environment, said: “Energy security and resource scarcity are two of the key themes of our age and using former landfill sites to grow crops for the generation of carbon-neutral energy is part of our response.
“We specifically select crops which will aid the long-term restoration of the sites thereby providing a further benefit to the process. “We aim to have more sites in production in the coming months and years as we continue to move towards a resource-focused solution to managing the waste we all generate.” Crops being grown on FCC Environment’s sites include miscanthus grass, short rotation willow coppice and maize. Plans are advancing to use treated landfill leachate in a controlled irrigation system to water crops on some FCC Environment landfill sites.
These developments underline FCC Environment’s commitment to diversify the ongoing use of landfill sites, and show commitment to encouraging a low carbon economy by developing sources of green, sustainable energy generation.