Hawes Creamery gears up to produce energy from cheese waste

cheese
David Hartley

A by-product of the cheesemaking process at the Wensleydale Creamery is to be the raw material to produce more than 10,000 MWh of energy per year.

The new feedstock agreement between the creamery and Iona Capital will see Iona’s Leeming Biogas plant in North Yorkshire process whey permeate, a valuable by-product produced during the manufacturing of the world-famous Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, and turn it into almost a million cubic meters of green gas. Using a process called anaerobic digestion, the venture will in turn produce 10,000 MWh of thermal power, enough to heat 800 homes per year.

The Wensleydale Creamery, producer of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, produces 4,000 tonnes of cheese every year at its dairy in Hawes.

Iona Capital has already established nine anaerobic digestion facilities across Yorkshire, investing £100m in the region, as well as opening its York office in June 2018. The renewable energy plants save the equivalent of 37,300 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Mike Dunn, co-founder of Iona, said: “This partnership with Wensleydale not only shows how we are turning waste food products into useful energy for homes and business, but also our commitment to Yorkshire. Once we have converted the cheese by-product supplied by Wensleydale into sustainable green gas, we can feed what’s left at the end of the process onto neighbouring farmland to improve local topsoil quality. This shows the real impact of the circular economy and the part intelligent investment can play in reducing our CO2 emissions.”

Wensleydale Creamery MD David Hartley said: “The whole process of converting local milk to premium cheese and then deriving environmental and economic benefit from the natural by-products is an essential part of our business plan as a proud rural business. It is only possible as a result of significant and continued investments in our Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes and to sign this agreement and have the opportunity to convert a valuable by-product of cheese making into energy that will power hundreds of homes across the region will be fantastic for everyone involved.”