Iona Capital, a low-carbon sustainable fund manager, has secured a deal with the Wensleydale Creamery in northern England’s Yorkshire Dales to produce more than 10,000 megawatt/hours (MWh) of energy per year from a byproduct of cheesemaking.
The new feedstock agreement will see Iona’s Leeming Biogas plant in North Yorkshire process whey permeate, a valuable byproduct produced during the manufacturing of the famously crumbly Wensleydale cheese and turn it into nearly 1 million cubic metres of environmentally sustainable gas.
Using a process called anaerobic digestion, the venture said it would produce 10,000 MWh of thermal power, enough to heat 800 homes per year.
The Wensleydale Creamery produces 4,000 tonnes of cheese every year at its dairy in Hawes in the Dales.
The agreement between Iona and the creamery is part of the development of Iona Capital’s growing portfolio of assets in northeastern England.
The fund manager said it had already established nine anaerobic digestion plants across Yorkshire, investing £100 million in the region, as well as opening an office in York last June.
Iona says the renewable energy plants save the equivalent of 37,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Mike Dunn, a 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 byproduct supplied by Wensleydale into sustainable green gas, we can feed what’s left at the end of the process onto neighbouring farmland to improve topsoil quality.
“This shows the real impact of the circular economy and the part intelligent investment can play in reducing our carbon-dioxide emissions.”
The Wensleydale Creamery’s managing director, David Hartley, told the media: “We are proud to be delivering sustainable environmental and economic benefits to our region.
“The whole process of converting local milk to premium cheese and then deriving environmental and economic benefit from the natural byproducts 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 byproduct of cheese making into energy that will power hundreds of homes across the region will be fantastic for everyone involved.”