Pig manure to be turned into energy thanks to Swindon firm

By Anita Jaynes on 16 December, 2016

The manure of 50,000 pigs will be recycled into energy thanks to an £8m funding deal secured by a team of Swindon corporate finance specialists.

The finance organised by Watersheds, based in the town’s Bath Road, will enable Farm Renewables Ltd to build an anaerobic digestion plant in Funtington, Sussex.  The pioneering process will see manure broken down by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen, to produce a methane-rich gas that can be used as fertiliser and fuel.

Farm Renewables Ltd is a renewable energy company focused on anaerobic digestion. The business is led by Malcolm McAllister and Nigel Goodhew who together built RidgeWind, a wind energy business from a standing start and ultimately sold it for £260m.

Some months ago their new business, Farm Renewables Ltd, needed seed finance to get going.

Nigel Goodhew, Farm Renewables managing director, said: “We needed finance to allow us to gain planning permission consent for numerous sites before the construction stage. We wanted investment, but we also wanted to ensure that we were able to gain maximum rewards from the capital gain later on.  Watersheds looked after us and delivered a crucial result.”

Malcolm McAllister, chairman of Farm Renewables, said: “Having raised seed finance we needed to get on with building our first anaerobic digestion plant.”

The project is based at Basil Baird’s 2,500-acre farming business in Funtington, Sussex.  The Baird family have built a significant business on the three ‘Ps’, property, pigs and potatoes, but having recently sold the potato business, they now want to concentrate on property and their 2,000 outdoor sows and are investing significantly in new pig buildings and their own feed mixing unit.

They will then feed and develop 50,000 high welfare, bacon pigs annually and the resulting pig manure creates the opportunity to generate energy to be supplied to the farm and the local grid.  They sought a partner with a deep understanding of anaerobic digestion to finance, build and operate an anaerobic digestion plant on their land and share the benefits.

Malcolm added: “It is a great project.  I know it is easy to borrow money from banks when you own the farm land, but without the land as security, how do we finance the project?  So, it was back to Watersheds.”

Richard Buzzoni, director of Watersheds, said: “Finding the money to develop a business, can be a life changing event for our clients. That’s what we do.  We do what is difficult and we have an enthusiasm for deals that are personal. Giving our clients the opportunity to build a business and then realise significant gains is a true Watershed.”

Pictured above: The delegation involved in the deal at the farm.