Using fish heads to generate energy is one of the innovations contributing to an energy expense reduction. (Photo: Stock File)
Retailers get creative, use fish heads to generate electricity
Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
A series of supermarket chains is now testing how to use leftover fish and cooking oils to lower energy and landfill costs. Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, William Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW), Wal-Mart and Sainsbury are turning fish heads and animal fat into electricity to reduce garbage-removal fees.
Supermarkets are moving in this direction to avoid an increasingly expensive landfill tax.
“Diverting food waste from landfill to anaerobic digestion is a no-brainer for the supermarkets -- landfill charges and energy costs are only getting more expensive,” said Niamh McSherry, a food retail analyst at Berenberg Bank, Bloomberg reports.
In the absence of oxygen, anaerobic digestion breaks down organic material to make a biogas that can be burned to generate electricity.
Bioenergy can account for at least 8 per cent of the UK’s demand by 2020, the government forecasts.
Biffa Group Ltd is processing Sainsbury’s waste for the next two years, and Biogen Ltd already processes food from Waitrose stores. Waste-to-power projects benefit from state subsidies under the government’s Renewable Obligation Certificate programme, which requires that utilities buy rising amounts of electricity from clean energy sources.
Refineries are also advancing in this field: Neste Oil Oyj (NES1V) is making diesel for cars and trucks using fat from gutting pangasius.
Morrison’s, as part of its plan for zero waste to go to landfills by 2013, sends trash to bioenergy plants. Marks & Spencer, striving to become carbon-neutral in the UK and Ireland this year, sends 89 per cent of its food waste to similar facilities.
Sainsbury plans to build 40 plants within five years that will use waste to generate electricity. Trying to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, the company has installed about 7 megawatts of solar panels on its stores, which combined may be bigger than any single solar farm in the UK, explained Neil Sachdev, property director for the retailer.
One of the firm’s stores also uses geothermal power.
But as far as the “greenest” store, Morrison’s said it opened last October in Peterborough. The location is testing solar panels as well as more efficient lighting and air-source pumps that use outside oxygen to produce heating.
By Natalia Real