We've teamed up with Impact Bioenergy to bring no-money-down biogas systems to California restaurants and grocery stores.
Impact Bioenergy has designed and built the first modular, affordable, small-scale commercial anaerobic digester in North America. Through a new distribution agreement with Impact Bioenergy, and financing partnerships that will allow customers to pay a monthly service fee to use the digester, Everflux will focus on building a scalable, replicable model for deploying these digesters across California.
Impact Bioenergy's HORSE digester has the capacity to process food waste coming from a large suburban restaurant, grocery store, hospital or cafeteria, and turn it into gas for water heating or cooking. The digested material ("digestate") will then be sold as a soil amendment for urban farmers. Digestate has a similar nutrient profile to cow manure, but comes out in liquid form, making it great for hydroponics.
I first contact Impact Bioenergy in the spring of 2016 after hearing of their successful Kickstarter campaign. I was interested in buying a system to do a pilot project in Toronto and launch the business then. But a major problem emerged: without any operational history (Impact Bioenergy had only built two systems at that point, and neither were running), it was impossible to find financing for such a system. So I put the idea on hold. But a year and a half later, I saw Impact Bioenergy speak at the Biocycle Refor17 conference in Portland OR, and found out that they had five systems up and running, and a sixth had just been sold to Microsoft. Now this was something that had the foundation to scale, I thought.
Five months later, after another trip to Seattle and seeing the fledgling operation Impact Bioenergy had going there, we signed a distribution agreement.
In order to scale this deployment model, Everflux will be focusing on four things:
1) Finding a good-fit niche market in which to sell digestate as fertilizer. This, we have realized, is the key to making the distributed biogas model work - it boosts project economics from marginal to outstanding. For most large scale digesters, digestate is a liability, For various reasons, a distributed approach has a much better chance at turning the digestate into an asset. The biggest reason: each system does not product unmanageably large amounts of digestate.
2) Setting up the operational capacity to collect digestate from each system, process and package it. In order to market the digestate as fertilizer, we need a small fleet of trucks picking it up from each digester, and a small facility where we can bottle or bag the digestate for sale. As a result, Everflux's project development will take a very regional approach: we will start with the Bay Area at first, and branch out from there once we have a critical density of projects. We will eventually establish many small bottling facilities strategically placed to cover a specific region where we have projects. A hub and spoke model, like SolarCity's approach to installation.
3) Setting up the infrastructure to maintain and repair Impact Bioenergy systems. This will go hand in hand with the digestate distribution: our bottling facilities will also be operations centers, where maintenance crews can head out to nearby digesters that need work.
4) Finding a partner who will finance the projects. We've already begun talks with a financier who is interested in financing these types of projects, if we can bundle several of them together with a promise of more to come. This will necessitate approaching large chain restaurants, such as Chevy's. Panera Bread, or California Pizza Kitchen. It will also mean coming up with a highly standardized approach to project development and deployment. But with Impact Bioenergy's systems coming fully assembled in a shipping container, this prospect gets a whole lot easier.
We look forward to growing this partnership with them.