CNH Industrial has taken a minority stake in Bennamann Ltd, a UK-based agtech firm specialising in clean energy derived from biomethane. The acquisition coincides with a report just published from the World Biogas Association (WBA) highlighting the opportunity to drastically cut the methane emissions from the huge volume of organic waste generated annually by human activity, including farming, using the latest technology.
Bennamann Ltd, which is headquartered in St Allen, UK, was founded in 2011 and is committed to delivering a local clean energy revolution by unlocking the power of biomethane. It is pioneering an innovative, new approach to sustainable farming that maximises the use of on-site renewable energy resources in combination with animal waste, to supply all the energy needed for the farm, enabling farmers to become ‘energy Independent’ from fossil fuels, thereby reducing operational costs.
Net zero carbon energy
It seeks to deliver commercially viable net zero carbon energy products, both biogas and liquid biofuel, from animal waste for sale and distribution, generating additional revenue streams for farmers. It also improves the sustainability of farmland management practices through minimizing artificial inputs such as manufactured fertilizer, lowering operational costs and reducing pollutants. Furthermore, these scalable solutions are focused on reducing initial capital expenditure, rendering the system more accessible to small and medium sized agribusinesses.
Repurposing fugitive methane emissions
Bennamann’s technology captures and repurposes fugitive methane emissions from agricultural and other sectors. The company prevents this harmful greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere and, using highly innovative and patented technology, processes it into liquid fugitive methane for distribution and use as an energy rich renewable biofuel with a ‘better-than-zero’ carbon footprint.
Bennamann says its entire business is built upon circular economy principles. In the case of agriculture, by capturing methane emitted from anaerobically digested manure slurry and other organic waste, the company says it enables farmers to reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint, comply with pollution abatement legislation, achieve energy independence through using some of the biofuel produced for on-site power and heat, as well as use the biologically enhanced digestate as an alternative to chemical fertilisers.
Biofuel production not used on the farm is sold by Bennamann into various biogas markets, including for vehicle and off-road machinery use as well as heat provision, and the resulting profits are shared with the farmer.
The company’s ‘energy Independent’ approach is currently being successfully tested across a number of farms in South West England, demonstrating the viability of such a ‘closed loop’ energy system. Furthermore, CNH Industrial is actively collaborating with Bennamann on alternative fuels for agricultural machinery.
Biogas: Pathways to 2030
The acquisition appears timely, given the recent findings from a report just published by the World Biogas Association (WBA), entitled ‘Biogas: Pathways to 2030’. The report provides a comprehensive review of how management of unavoidable organic waste through anaerobic digestion (AD) could, by 2030, deliver a 10% reduction in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – in particular methane, which it says is 85 times worse than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period*.
The report found that human activity generates 105 billion tonnes of organic wastes (food waste, sewage and garden wastes, food and drink processing wastes, and farm and agricultural wastes) annually. By managing these properly, the WBA argues industry can: Reduce the quantity produced – delivering a 3% reduction in GHG emissions; treat the GHG-emitting balance – removing a further 5% of emissions; and then recycle this balance through AD into alternatives to fossil-based products – delivering a further 5% reduction in GHG emissions.
Once all avoidable waste is prevented, the remaining unavoidable waste can be recycled into green energy for power, heat and transport as well as biofertilisers for agriculture, bio-CO2 and other valuable bio-products. However, the report found that only 2% of those wastes are currently being effectively managed.
“By mapping out how AD and biogas could help countries to dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane, over the next decade and beyond, this report aims to put humanity back on track to deliver on the ambitions of both the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said David Newman, president of WBA.
“The report highlights the fundamental part our industry can play in achieving net zero and in creating a circular, sustainable and environmentally-friendly economy for both high- and low- income countries,” he continued. “Ahead of COP26, these countries should integrate AD and biogas into their NDCs if we are to successfully address the climate emergency. And they need to do so urgently.”
Charlotte Morton, WBA chief executive, added: “Current nations’ climate plans deliver a hopeless 1% of the 45% greenhouse gas emissions reductions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is required to keep climate warming to below 2°C. Treating the world’s unavoidable organic wastes through AD would help meet over one quarter of this alarming shortfall**. We cannot afford to miss such an opportunity and need to act NOW to ensure that AD and biogas can fully play their part in addressing climate change.”
* While a carbon gas, methane caused by human activity is identified as being responsible for ~20% of global warming. Addressing methane holds the key to success as it has a greater forcing effect over the first 20 years in the atmosphere. While methane typically stays in the atmosphere for 35 years, its global warming potential is far greater than CO2. As a consequence, one tonne of methane released over the next decade is equivalent to releasing 85 tonnes of CO2. As we have 10 years to act, tackling methane is the key to achieving net zero.
** To be on track to limit global warming to below 2°C by the end of the century, the IPCC say a 45% cut in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions against 2010 levels is required by 2030. An interim NDC Synthesis Report for the UNFCCC shows pledges currently amount to 1%.