"As livestock producers, we would like to contribute to society's efforts to improve the environment and climate, but the business case must be a good one," states farmer Torben Pedersen, who in 2008 headed the development of a biogas project in Holsted, Denmark. Now the plant is built, and the gas is slowly on its way through the pipes.
In 2008, approx. 60 visionary farmers in the Brørup and Holsted area of Denmark began developing a local biogas project. After seven years of dedicated effort, the 40 partners remaining in the project can see their perseverance being crowned as a success. The biogas plant is almost finished, and in June, the green gas began slowly seeping through the pipes.
The project has demanded both investment, skill and hard work, and throughout the entire process, the farmers have not lost sight of their goal.
"If my business is to continue in existence in the long-term, then we need to develop in the environment area . I have just been in the US, where the farmers are met with requirements to establish a biogas plant, when they wish to increase their livestock holding. In the 1970s, the agricultural sector built slurry tanks, and today, we build biogas plants. So it is a question of us being part of the development and contribution to society, both in consideration to the environment and climate," explains farmer Torben Pedersen.
He is chairman of Brørup Holsted Biogas a.m.b.a., which today owns the biogas plant, together with the energy company NGF Nature Energy.
A good business case
But how can one keep the momentum going, when it takes seven years or maybe longer to complete a biogas project?
"First and foremost, it is important that you have some money to work with from the start, so that you can hire someone to carry out part of the project development. For this reason, the farmers pitched in together to put DKK 2.5 million into the project," says Pedersen.
The next task was to find someone who could help develop the project.
"During this phase, we were greatly helped by Xergi," recounts the chairman. During the development phase, both the farmers and Xergi focused on establishing a strong business case.
"We want to help contribute to society as livestock producers, but biogas is no longer a pioneer. It must therefore present a good business case, so that we can get a good return on our investment. It has taken a long time, but when you believe in a project, then it is hard to give up on it," states Pedersen.
NGF Nature Energy enters the project
When the Danish Parliament in 2012 decided to improve the framework conditions for biogas production in the country, the project really started to take off.
After the improvement of the framework conditions for biogas, the energy company NGF Nature Energy communicated its wish to invest in the Danish biogas plant. This led to a fruitful collaboration on the establishment of the biogas company NGF Nature Energy Holsted.
NGF Nature Energy owns a part of the Danish natural gas grid, and the company's objectives in entering into the project are clear:
"We wish to build biogas plants because we want green gas in the gas grid. Denmark has a goal to become fossil free by 2050 at the latest. Society will continue to require a gas grid with the green energy system of the future, which is why it is obvious that we are involved in ensuring the biogas production," explains Hans Henrik Dahl Andersen, Plant Manager at NGF Nature Energy.
Deep litter strengthens the economy
Hans Henrik Andersen only has good things to say about Xergi's work to date:
"We are extremely satisfied with the contract we have entered into with Denmark's undoubtedly most professional supplier. Xergi has extensive experience from abroad, and the company also offers some technologies that are interesting to us, particularly within the area of difficult biomasses, such as deep litter," he says.
He is referring to the X-chopper®, which Xergi has developed to crush deep litter, so that it can be added to biogas plants in much larger quantities. Deep litter has a high gas potential, and the X-chopper® thus helps strengthen the aforementioned business case.
"So we are definitely expecting to get full value for our money," concludes Hans Henrik Andersen.
The plant will be put into operation over the summer and handed over to NGF Nature Energy Holsted in August 2015.
Facts about NGF Nature Energy Holsted
Biomass: 393,000 tonnes of biomass. Approx. 75 percent will be livestock manure, including slurry from cattle, pigs and mink, for example. The remaining biomass comes from organic waste from industry and energy crops, among other things. Energy crops can for example be grass from grassy and natural areas, corn, beets and similar.
Energy production: 11-13 million m3 bio natural gas per year