Winchester Council Planning Committee approved the revised Planning Application for the Hampshire Renewable Energy Demonstration Centre and Green Gas Mill on 13 October 2016.

Background

Ecotricity (with the full support of the College) submitted the application for planning permission for the Green Gas Mill and Education Building to Winchester City Council, as part of the wider ambition for developing this new area of Learning and Skills in the renewable energy sector.  

The Green Gas Mill will make gas from grass – sourced from marginal land together with grass grown as a break crops on arable farms as in the local area – using anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce biogas that is purified into biomethane to be used by the college, with the leftover fed straight into the national grid. A natural fertiliser that’s a by-product of the AD process would go back onto the farmers’ fields to improve the soil. 

The Sparsholt College Green Gas Mill, fuelled by locally harvested grass, could produce enough clean gas to power the equivalent of 4,000 homes every year. 

Up to eight specialist professional jobs will be created to run the Green Gas Mill, while the new supply contracts with farmers – providing the grass and rye feedstock required to supply the anaerobic digestion process – reinforce existing jobs. 

Ecotricity will finance and build the Green Gas Mill and help fund the development of a renewable energy centre, where the college will train the workforce necessary to support the green gas revolution coming to Britain. 

Tim Jackson, Sparsholt College principal,  said “The Green Gas Mill is the next step on the journey towards Sparsholt College developing our status as a ‘Centre for the Demonstration of Environmental Technologies’, which is being supported by Ecotricity and through a grant from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. 

“Creating our own green gas on site will massively cut our environmental impact and reduce our energy bills. The fact we can share the financial and environmental benefits of this project with the local farming community is a massively positive outcome for the college.” 

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “It’s good for our economy, because we’ll no longer need to import those expensive fossil fuels; it’s good for the environment, because it’s carbon neutral and creates new wildlife habitats; and it’s good for farmers, because it allows them to diversify, rely less on farming livestock, and build a more sustainable future. 

“The world signed up to the limiting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C at the Paris Climate Conference last year – that included a long term goal of being carbon neutral after 2050 and eventually carbon negative, which means taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than we put in. They’re big ambitions – and green gas is essential to that vision. 

“Sparsholt is one of the first Green Gas Mills we’re looking to build in Britain – one of the first in what will be a green gas revolution in this country. And what’s particularly special is that, together with Sparsholt, we’ll be helping to train the green gas engineers Britain will need.” 

See also the Ecotricity website section on Green Gas.