4th May 2017

From Project Build to Asset Management

It is no great surprise that with the continual tariff degression and the general lack of renewables support from the government, the anaerobic digestion industry remains in the doldrums. Whilst, there has been positive movements within the sector with a planned short term increase in the Feed in Tariff (FiT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) tariff, prolonging the viability of the technology in a tariff-dependent circumstance, the delays to the revised legislation continues to create uncertainty.



AD4Energy is a British firm that has predominantly focused on designing, building and commissioning anaerobic digestion plants. The company also offers accompanying anaerobic digestion services, such as pre-contract support services that include obtaining grid connections, EA permits and planning permissions; as well as planned preventative maintenance services that includes mechanical and biological servicing.



For a long time the company has concentrated on providing and building anaerobic digestion plants, with the additional services being the secondary priority and focus. However, as demonstrated by the FiT queue, the demand for new build projects has slowed, with support to the already built plants becoming a greater focus for day to day work.



Notwithstanding this, it continues to pleasantly surprise the company at recent exhibitions that there is still a demand and interest in new build anaerobic digestion plants. It is important for those who are considering investing in the technology, that they have a use for the heat and electricity, as well as ensuring that 50% of the feedstock is compiled from waste products (i.e. slurry or food waste).



In the previous rush to build plants before tariff deadlines, many sites have not been optimised for either compliance, maintenance or even operational efficiency. The company has noted through market research and conversations with new and existing clients that there is a requirement for biological and mechanical services, and consultancy services such as design and DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations) studies.



In recent months AD4Energy has seen a significant increase in demand for their maintenance and consultancy services. The company has secured grid connections, environmental permits, planning applications and pre-accreditation for FiTs and RHI for existing and external customers. There has also been an increase in enquiries for mechanical and biological support and servicing, especially from those who are existing anaerobic digestion plant owners. Operators are coming to realise that it is crucial to have an effective maintenance programme in place when it comes to the operation and health of the digester. Breakdowns are not only costly but also the Environment Agency and insurance providers are now looking for evidence that plants have planned maintenance in place.



For Example:
If an existing 165kW AD plant has 1 week downtime, it would lose out on £5,544.00 of income (Feed in Tariff and Export Tariff)
20p/kWh x 24h x 165kW x 7 days = £5,544.00
On top of this will be the costs of repairs, which could have been avoided.



Further to this, there has been growth in consultancy based enquires to the company for services such as design, technical advice and carrying out compliance studies. Current anaerobic digestion plant owners are recognising that now the Environment Agency, Health and Safety and insurance companies are looking to see whether documentation, drawings and general compliance is in place. Whilst when originally built many plants had complete as-built designs, maintenance plans, DSEAR/ATEX zoning in place, subsequent plant modifications mean this information is now out of date. There is also an expectation that all safety equipment has had an annual third party maintenance inspection. This is not only on relief valves, but also on gas alarms and detectors, pressure vessels, as well as the electrical installation.



The aim for AD4Energy’s future growth is to become an established all-round anaerobic digestion service provider to existing plant owners and those who are looking to invest in the technology. The predominate focus for the company is to support an industry which is maturing and transitioning from development into an asset management based business; providing support with pre-contract services, such as planning and pre-accreditation; to mechanical and biological services. AD4Energy will also continue to design, build and commission their tailor-made anaerobic digestion plants.





This article was first published in the magazine, Bioenergy Insight, in their May/June 2017 edition (Volume 8, Issue 3)

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