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A crowdfunded biogas first for HoSt

Netherlands-headed bioenergy technology specialists HoSt has begun construction of two biomethane-to-grid projects in the Netherlands. Both biogas plants are mono-manure digesters with the biogas to be produced from 95 percent manure and a maximum of 5 percent of co-substrates. The biogas will be upgraded into biomethane with HoSt's Bright Biomethane technology and injected into the gas grid. The projects have a combined total value of almost EUR 10 million.

Maarten Holtkamp, Sales Director, Bright Biomethane during the UK AD & World Biogas Expo.

Located in Marrum in Friesland in the north of the country, the Biogas Marrum project is owned and will be operated by HoSt. According to the company, the fully autonomous plant will process over 35 000 tonnes of manure to produce 2.2 million Nm3 of biomethane annually. The biomethane will be fed into the gas network with the first biomethane expected to be injected in early 2019.

As a company we have a target to derive a least 20 percent of our revenues from our own bioeenergy related projects such as Biogas Marrum, explained Maaten Holtkamp, Sales Director, Bright Biomethane, the dedicated biogas upgrading arm of HoSt, during the recently concluded UK AD and World Biogas Expo in Birmingham

In addition to revenues from biomethane, high-quality fertilizers will be processed for local sales in the agriculture sector – the digestate will be separated into a thick and a thin fraction. After hygienisation, the thick fraction becomes an “export-ready” residual product.

Holtkamp also highlighted that as a technology supplier and as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) service provider, owning and operating plants provides valuable experience and insights into technology and/or service improvements as well as research and development (R&D) opportunities.

It means that any technology, service or concept that we provide as a supplier or EPC has been tried and tested by us, Holtkamp said.

Crowdfunded biogas plant

The second biogas project to begin construction is Van Eijck Groengas and is located in Alphen-Chaam in North Brabant, in the south of the country close to the border with Belgium. Being developed by the Van Eijck brothers that are dairy farmers in Alphen-Chaam, the biogas facility will process over 43 000 tonnes of manure and produce 2.4 million Nm3 biomethane annually.

Also here the digestate will be separated with the liquid fraction supplied to arable farmers and the solids fraction will be exported. In addition to the turn-key supply and construction of the plant, HoSt will also provide maintenance for the biogas upgrading system based on a 24/7 service contract.

In both projects, Bright Biomethane’s advanced gas treatment technique is applied for the upgrading of biogas to biomethane. To cover the heat consumption, maximum heat recovery is applied by the use of a heat pump resulting in a high efficiency. All the products are stored in enclosed spaces and the exiting air is first treated with an advanced air treatment technique to ensure minimal odour.

However, perhaps the most novel aspect of the estimated EUR 5 million project is that Van Eijck Groengas managed to raise over EUR 1.1 million in “crowdfunded” finance, the first biogas project ever on the crowdfunding platform Oneplanetcrowd.

The response was amazing and the first that HoSt has participated in that has used crowdfunding. The EUR 900 000 target, needed to secure funding commitments from traditional financial sources, was reached in just over 48 hours, said Holtkamp.

Holtkamp pointed out that both biomethane projects are supported by the Dutch government with the SDE+ (Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production)subsidy – a fixed fee is paid per Nm3 biomethane for a period of 12 years. Thus the project risk in terms of expected revenue is very small while at the same time the technologies used, anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas upgrading are proven.

This is why crowdfunding could be an alternative way forward for environmental projects like Van Eijck Groengas. After all, a 6 or 7 percent return on a green energy investment beats near-zero interest rate on money sitting in a bank account and a great way of engaging your neighbours or local community assuming, of course, you are open for that high level of transparency, ended Maarten Holtkamp.

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