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Suiker Unie plans to build a digester

2 April 2007

Suiker Unie is assessing possibilities to build a digester on land belonging to the sewage farm of its sugar factory in Dinteloord, where it could produce biogas from organic material. Initial research indicates that such an investment could be profitable, and would benefit from the growing demand for sustainable energy. Applications for the necessary licences will be submitted during the course of 2007. However, in order to build the fermenter the current land use plan will have to be amended or dispensation will have to be granted.
 
The sugar factory intends to produce biogas from organic products and by-products, including beet crowns. The biogas could be used to generate electricity and heat. The fermenter will also be able to process organic by-products from other factories, including steamed potato peel from potato processing plants. It is a joint venture by Suiker Unie and Duynie. Duynie processes and sells by-products from sugar production and potato processing, and is a subsidiary of Aviko, which also belongs to Royal Cosun.
 
Scope
The processing capacity will be 100,000 tons of organic material per year, with which 3 to 4 MW of electricity can be generated. The fermenter and its accessories will be built on land belonging to Suiker Unie’s sewage farm, and will cover an area of no more than 5 ha. The location is already intended for business use, but the options for building on it are inadequate for the planned fermenter.
 
Environment and sustainability
The fermenter will not cause more environmental nuisance in the residential area of Stampersgat. The environmental nuisance is permitted under the applicable environmental licence. Any additional traffic will make use of the existing route. The planned investment fits into the sustainability strategy of Suiker Unie and its parent company Royal Cosun. Suiker Unie has the intention to produce even more sustainable, to contribute to the objectives renewable energy as stated by the European Union, and to develop its current activities in order to maintain employability, among other things, as far as possible. The fermenter will bring about a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels such as natural gas. Less carbon dioxide will therefore be emitted, which will help to realise the objectives of the climate policy of the Netherlands and the European Union.
 
Procedure
Suiker Unie has informed the province and the municipalities of Steenbergen, Halderberge and Moerdijk of its plans. The authorities respond positively to the principle of generating sustainable energy. Information is being collected and documented in reports in preparation for the decision on the amendment to the land use plan and the application for environmental licences.
 
Future
This initiative is in principle, and at this moment in time, totally unconnected to the plans for developing the Agro & Food Cluster West-Brabant. However, the fermenter would certainly dovetail well with these plans. It would offer companies and the glasshouse sector the opportunity to offer their organic residuals for processing and to use the generated sustainable energy. This would add greater emphasis to the site’s sustainability ‘label’.
 
It is expected that construction work will start next year (2008). This depends on the time needed to amend the land use plan and obtain the necessary licences. Construction will first commence after it is officially confirmed that the investment qualifies for a subsidy for the generation of sustainable energy (“MEP subsidy”). In view of the intentions of the new cabinet, this seems very likely.