Invitation to join Five Oaks community energy production scheme

JPCT 260215 S15080370x Little Oak Energy biogas enterprise, George Trowbridge -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150226-161544001
JPCT 260215 S15080370x Little Oak Energy biogas enterprise, George Trowbridge -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150226-161544001
  • Couple set up small anaerobic digester near farm

A couple from Rudgwick who have built a small green energy plant are offering to show clubs, schools and farms how to build similar schemes.

Husband and wife team George and Clare Trowbridge set up Little Oak Energy in Five Oaks three years ago using a plot the size of a barn to build a small scale anaerobic digester.

Like the recent controversial Crouchland Biogas plant in Plaistow, Little Oak uses farm waste, such as grass or break crops, to produce gas to turn into electricity.

However, whereas that has attracted criticism from the community for increasing HGV traffic in the area, Little Oaks has been welcomed by villagers because it uses silage from a farm next door.

The gas is turned into electricity and fed into the national grid on site and is enough energy to power 120 homes each year.

Mr Trowbridge said: “We were given planning permission in September 2012. The idea was to make it a small scale project and put it somewhere that’s unobtrusive.”

“It’s small enough to be permitted development, if you find the right place for it.”

After putting all their savings into Little Oak, they are now looking raising funds by inviting people to tour the plant and showing them how they can build similar projects at their farms, clubs and schools.

Mr Trowbridge said: “I want to show people how they can do it. Most of the equipment is available off the shelf. We use a lot of local contractors for quite a lot of things.

“It provides the opportunity where small groups or communities can get into generating their own power.

“Whether it’s a village or local group that want this more sustainable way, it’s within their reach. All of the technology is beautiful. We live in Rudgwick. We have got lots of industrial business parks. It’s ideal for that sort of thing.”

He added: “If I can just raise the final capital I need, this plant will be able to sustain itself and serve as an example for the creation of others around the country.

“If not, I will have to break up the plant and get out of energy production permanently.

“Sharing my experience, inspiring the next generation of engineers and helping others create similar plants are all part of why I decided to create Little Oak Energy.”

To find out more about the project go to www.littleoakenergy.co.uk

Clarification: An earlier version of the article stated grain is used in the digester. The County Times would like to clarify grass and break crops are used to feed the digester. No food grade waste is used.