In Italy, national waste management company HERAmbiente, a subsidiary of multi-utility Gruppo HERA S.p.A, and compatriot meat processing major Inalca S.p.A, a Cremonini Group company, have partnered to form a NewCo BIORG for transforming organic waste and agro-food wastewater into 100 percent biomethane (aka renewable natural gas - RNG) and compost.
Through an investment of approximately EUR 28 million, a site owned by HERAmbiente in Spilamberto, in the Modena area, will be renovated using the best available technologies (BAT). The biomethane production plant will be operational by 2022.
HERAmbiente currently operates 90 state-of-the-art plants in Italy that treat all types of waste. After the pioneering experience in Sant’Agata Bolognese (BO) launched in 2018, the Hera Group is continuing to develop its biomethane supply chain, with the aim of producing more than 15.5 million Nm3 per year by 2024, more than doubling the current volume.
The Hera Group has always been at the forefront in promoting environmental sustainability and the circular economy: all our projects go in this direction, while at the same time fostering innovation and the growth both of the company and the areas in which we operate. Regarding the development of the biomethane chain in particular, our agreement with a first-class partner such as Inalca represents a further step forward for us after having established the first plant ever built in Italy by a multi-utility to produce biomethane on an industrial scale, the one in Sant’Agata Bolognese. Thanks to the know-how gained through this facility, we are always aiming at new initiatives for a circular economy transition, in line with our Strategic Plan up to 2024, said Andrea Ramonda, CEO of HERAmbiente.
Organic waste feedstocks
The Spilamberto plant will not require using land to grow feedstock. The biogas will be generated by the anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic waste from the Group’s sorted waste collection and waste from the processing of the agro-food industry, including the meat production cycle of Inalca.
When fully operational, production is expected to be 3.7 million Nm3 of biomethane per year, which will be injected into the gas network and returned to the local area for automotive use.
According to HERAmbiente this will replace approximately 3 000 tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) of fossil fuel thus avoiding approximately 7 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The operation will also enable the recovery of nutrients as the digestate from the AD process will be transferred to the BIORG composting plant in Nonantola (MO) – currently owned by the Cremonini Group – to produce approximately 18 000 tonnes of compost per year. This can be used as a biofertiliser in agriculture.
This NewCo will be able to make tangible contributions to the local-area circular economy in keeping with the guidelines of the recent PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) which promotes and supports the construction of new facilities for the production of biofuels.
This agreement consolidates and strengthens Inalca’s integrated and sustainable production model. In fact, the new plant allows the processing waste from our production activities to be fully exploited, confirming Inalca’s ‘zero waste’ commitment. In addition, an effective industrial synergy is achieved, with the production of biomethane and composting in two perfectly complementary plants. For this reason, this agreement with a company with the know-how and state-of-the-art technologies such as HERA proves that only true innovation can generate the competitive sustainability that reduces the impact on the environment while at the same time generating higher added value for the entire livestock sector, explained Luigi Scordamaglia, CEO at Inalca.