Biffa Poplars: Resourceful and Responsible Energy from Waste

Here at Skyview, we strive to work with likeminded industry partners with ambitious sustainability targets like those set by Biffa. The start of 2020 saw the launch of Biffa’s Sustainability Strategy “Resourceful, Responsible”, which sets out measurable goals to tackle climate change. Biffa’s energy division operates energy from waste facilities across the UK, creating renewable energy from the processing of food waste. As huge champions of the innovative advances being made in the green energy market, we jumped at the opportunity to add Biffa’s flagship Poplars Anaerobic Digestion (AD) site to our extensive waste portfolio.

About Biffa Poplars AD

Biffa operates a number of food waste treatment facilities in the UK, with an overall AD capacity of over 300ktpa of food waste to be recycled or reused every year. With three AD facilities located in Leicestershire, Staffordshire and West Sussex, Biffa’s Poplars AD facility opened in Cannock in April 2011 with an investment of £24 million. The plant has the capacity to handle up to 120,000 tonnes of food waste per year and generates up to 6.5m MW of electricity - enough to power 15,000 homes - making it the most efficient food waste processing AD plant in the UK.

The Challenge

AD technology is increasingly being deployed across the UK to convert waste food matter into bio methane to generate green energy. Whilst it is an environmentally superior method of waste management - there is still an array of site permit requirements and environmental and legislative challenges to consider, particularly where site safety and odour control are concerned.  As with all AD sites, a sound odour management plan must be in place and wind speed, direction and other parameters must be accurately monitored and measured to minimise pollution to the local community and the environment.

The installation itself proved a challenge, given the height of the Poplars AD plant coupled with the small foot print of useable site due to the expansive ATEX zoning in place. The positioning of Biffa’s wind speed and direction sensor was therefore paramount in order to ensure it would not succumb to the turbulent winds and shadowing from the plant itself.

Our Solution

With the aid of a Mobile Elevating Working Platform, our experienced engineers set about to install a GPRS weather monitoring solution on an adjacent build at a suitable height to ensure accurate wind readings, well away from the shadowing posed by the plant.

Data from this system is then displayed in a number of locations on site, and is configured to transmit wirelessly to individual LCD displays. To achieve this, a combination of wireless signal repeaters and a Skyview GPRS modem were used to publish the live data locally and online via our Skylink-pro website. Biffa’s regional and national environmental compliance teams can then generate analytical reports of current and historic weather data records in various formats to demonstrate legislative compliance. The team are able to access live weather data at any time and from any internet-enabled location to make vital site management decisions to ensure the smooth running of daily operations.

Annual service and calibration visits ensure that the weather system is performing efficiently and accurately. Biffa site managers can also rest reassured that our Skyview engineers are on hand throughout the year for any rescue visits that may be necessary.