ClimateInvest Podcast: Privilege Finance, Anaerobic Digestion and the Battle to Reduce Carbon Emissions
This month on the Prestige ClimateInvest podcast we spoke to Chris Winward, CEO of Privilege Finance, and Marketing Manager Stevie Leeks.
Privilege Finance is 20 years old and has been lending to the agricultural area throughout that period, but 10 years ago diversified into financing projects which help reduce carbon and mitigate against climate change.
In the UK there are over 650 biogas plants, producing either electricity or gas going into the national grid. Privilege has provided funding to over 40 projects in the biogas sector. These generate over 1.8 Terawatts of energy per year, enough to power over a million of UK homes.
Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a proven technology, which has been around for a very long time. The plants can take organic waste including farmyard waste and food waste, turning it into power, and stopping it from contributing to carbon emissions (e.g., by going into landfill).
It is also now possible to capture CO2, taking carbon out of the organic cycle. The Anaerobic Digestion process breaks down organic matter to give two main products of biomethane and carbon dioxide. The biomethane is pumped into the national grid distribution pipeline and the CO2 is able to be captured. Biomethane does not release any more carbon into the environment as it is already existing within it whereas the burning of natural gas, a fossil fuel, releases more carbon into the atmosphere as it releases carbon that has previously been locked away millions of years ago.
On the podcast we discuss the COP26 conference and the focus on carbon emissions from within the farming sector, and how technology can help to mitigate this, including the commercialisation of anaerobic digestion technology. We look at the practicalities of getting these projects up and running and how Privilege finances these plants and works with developers.
AD also brings with it social benefits: Privilege has funded a project in Attleborough in Norfolk with a closed gas network which is pioneering a self-sustaining model using a former agricultural AD plant. Once construction is complete it will process local waste to produce gas for the community. It will be the first green town in the UK which is generating its gas through its own waste processing activities. Winward sees this as a pioneering project which Privilege can be proud of.
Also on the podcast, we talk about Eco Verde Energy (EVE), Privilege’s Operation and Maintenance arm, which provides support for AD plant owners. This includes back office and operations support, as well as sourcing suitable feedstock through the EVE network. It is important that AD plants are managed safely and that they can generate enough/good revenue.
How important is the role of biogas for the UK, as the government contemplates its options within its zero-carbon strategy? Wind, for example, has not been as productive a source of power as hoped over the last six months. With gas prices getting ever higher, the UK needs to be more self-sufficient. One potential way of achieving this, is to invest in and utilise biogas.
To hear the podcast please click here.
 Data collected by Privilege Finance from various market sources, details available upon request