Building and civil engineering contractor Britcon has completed construction and officially handed over a new £20m anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Widnes for food waste recycler ReFood. 

The plant is the largest gas-to-grid AD plant in the UK and the second plant for the ReFood brand in the UK. It will recycle some 90,000 tonnes of commercial and domestic food waste and will generate up to 17NWhs of biogas which will be transported directly to the national gas grid to provide enough power for 8,000 homes

Britcon was appointed to deliver the complex and highly specialist project in Widnes following successful completion of ReFood’s first AD plant in Doncaster, for which it was also recently appointed to deliver a £1.85m extension. 

Britcon was principal contractor for the entire project where over 1000 international workers were employed over an intensive 18 month build programme. The project brief included earthworks, piling operations and major structural works comprising multiple high rise, post tensioned, circular, reinforced digester tanks, receiving tanks and gas storage tanks. A Depackaging Building with a deep basement, numerous process structures, extensive external works all on a live site with difficult ground conditions were also part of the contract together with a carbon neutral high spec office complex.

Paul Morris, operations director at ReFood said, “Once again Britcon has delivered to very exacting standards on an extremely specialist and demanding project. We are delighted that the Britcon team has completed this project on time and on budget with an impeccable safety record. Our first gas-to-grid AD plant is now operational as a showcase for both the ReFood brand and also the AD industry as a whole both in the UK and Europe.

The move to gas-to-grid is a new development for ReFood and demonstrates the company’s commitment to identifying and embracing new technologies to ensure that food waste is maximised as an energy resource. The Widnes plant is the first gas-to-grid AD plant in ReFood’s European portfolio of 11 plants, which together provide enough power for 46,000 homes

ReFood Widnes offers integrated food waste collection and recycling services for businesses in a 50 mile radius including hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, local authorities and retailers. The unique element to the ReFood offering is its sanitised bin swap services, which sees a full bin swapped for a clean one. As a result, businesses don’t have to clean their own bins and the sanitised ReFood bin can be used in a kitchen environment, enabling food waste to be separated at source

Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire based Britcon has set out a deliberate strategy to focus its core business on key growth areas including energy and renewables. It has successfully created a niche operation able to deliver very specialist design and construction solutions for waste recycling.  

John Whitmore, construction director for the project at Britcon said, “Through our work with ReFood we have developed an intense process of value engineering which ensures best value throughout all elements and stages of the project. It requires a complex arrangement of a highly experienced team throughout procurement, delivery, flexibility and post management to deliver the project together with an exemplary health and safety record. We have built a strong and trusting relationship with ReFood across the UK and are delighted to be considered a valued partner as it seeks to expand existing operations.”

Britcon has a depth of experience working within the energy and renewables sector with particular credentials in biomass, solar PV, CHP, wind turbine, anaerobic digestion and thermal and ground source energy. Is it an active member of the Renewables Network.