September 23, 2020

Biogas upgrading: Reduce risk to attract investment

Investing in renewable energy

Keywords: investment, renewable energy, biogas upgrading, biomethane, green gas

How good of an investment is Renewable energy? The market for renewable energy is young when compared to the established fossil fuel market. Conventional wisdom therefor may convince to invest in fossil fuels, but this wisdom is obsolete.

A sustainable investment

A low carbon, sustainable investment often capable of achieving ROI in less than seven years, the biogas market is a highly attractive prospect to funders. Once operational, sites can generate revenue instantly and, thanks to fixed government subsidies, will guarantee income for many years to come. Facilities require minimal maintenance, only a select few staff and can operate relatively self-sufficiently.

However, building a new biogas facility is a hugely complex task. Historically, therefore, the go-to approach has been to employ a selection of specialist sub-contractors, each tasked with handling a specific task, role, or area in parallel. While many hands make light work, it can also often make the build process somewhat disjointed.

Take the six stages after gas leaves the digester, for example (pre-treatment, compression, membrane separation, propane injection, quality control and connection to the gas grid). Despite only taking up a relatively small space footprint on site, responsibility is typically shared between several companies. A small contract issue, inexperienced workers, incorrect paperwork, or delays to just one of these teams can prove detrimental to the efficiency of the entire build. Misjudging remit or poor fitment results in unexpected additional costs and unnecessary project delays.

A delayed completion not only affects the payback period, but (in the worst-case scenario) can be the difference between achieving or falling short of a subsidy deadline. For investors, simple mistakes can therefore cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Minimizing the risk of delays is therefore important in securing project financing. Rather than multiple contractors and more risk of possible delays, the market is pushing for a new approach – a solution that provides a single point of contact, while maximising cost efficiencies.

Reacting fast to the changing market

Introduced to minimise risk for funders and lead contractors, DMT’s new ethos – Total Solutions Provider (TSP) – aims to bring a step-change to the industry and provide a simple yet effective solution to guarantee the highest possible project efficiencies. A switch from technology provision to end-to-end service partnership, TSP supports the customer from the moment biogas leaves the digester to when it’s injected directly into the grid.

While most suppliers will only provide the upgrading unit, TSP also covers the specification and installation of pre-treatment technology, grid entry unit, interconnecting pipework, electrics and export to grid connection. What’s more, TSP takes responsibility for all gas network connection documentation – a vital area if projects are to achieve their deadlines, not only for installation of equipment but making sure all the required documentation is correctly submitted and signed off.

By taking responsibility for a variety of site build elements typically shared between numerous contractors, EPC/funders can expect a single, integrated, uniform project completed by a highly experienced and capable team. Trusting this to the world’s largest membrane biogas upgrader guarantees a right-first time approach and minimises risk throughout the build.

All this is made possible by a highly experienced team of biogas experts with more than 35 years’ experience. Each TSP expert has completed numerous projects previously and therefore has the knowledge, experience, expertise and understanding to bring significant value – and cost efficiency – to any build.

Throughout the TSP process, a close partnership approach is employed to ensure each element of the build process exceeds expectations. DMT’s market-leading upgrading technology is paired with in-depth understanding, experience, and unparalleled capability. What’s more, a five-year warranty is offered as standard – guaranteeing complete peace of mind for lead contractors, site managers and investors alike.

Looking to the future

With so much opportunity, industry-wide innovation, and guaranteed tariffs through the RHI, now is the perfect time for funders to invest in the biogas market. The returns are proven, reliable and fast, while the added benefit of helping to decarbonise the gas grid is also an attractive prospect.

However, to guarantee investment security and minimise payback times, it’s essential to reduce risk throughout the build process and work in partnership with the EPC contractor or funder and our experts to deliver optimum project efficiency. Through the company’s TSP offer, DMT can wrap scope and works under one contract and adhere to strict project timelines. Rather than a complex, disjointed process, TSP provides a safe, reliable, proven pair of hands.

DMT can work under an EPC contractor to deliver the TSP concept or partner with a funder to deliver the same scope of supply. Being flexible in terms of working relationships is all part of bringing home successfully projects says Business Director Stephen McCulloch.

About the author

With over a decade of experience in Biogas Upgrading, Stephen McCulloch has an excellent track record and has proven himself in the in the biogas industry. He excels in areas including financial viability of major projects, technology identification and biomethane fuel supply chain maturity and works tirelessly with industry influencers and government bodies to create a successful infrastructure for the biomethane to grid market.

Stephen has led pioneering work on ground-breaking gas to grid projects across Europe and has been on the forefront of developing the biogas industry. Many of the projects he has done, are an example for the industry and have become a benchmark for other upgrading projects. His creativity makes him excel in technology identification which has led to the opening of new market segments and the enhancement of business cases.  

Appointed UK Business Director for DMT Environmental Technology in 2017, Stephen is currently working on a few new TSP projects for delivery in Scotland and is looking toward to expanding our portfolio with Total Solutions Provider projects across the globe.