NPG energy has inaugurated its NPG BIO II biogas plant, at the Deurganckdok at Antwerp Port. This event was marked by the presence of many leading figures, and is the first in a series of future site openings.

Inauguration of this biogas plant at Antwerp Port is the first of three openings to come over the coming year. Through these new plants, Enovos is further integrating the value chain by becoming, alongside the investor and operator, a project developer; it is doing so not only on its own behalf, but also on behalf of third parties.

It is consequently hoping that along with NPG energy it will be able to provide a response to the risk of energy shortages and increase the sustainability of energy production in Belgium.

The plant was constructed in the record time of just ten months. André Jurres, CEO and co-founder of NPG energy, explained more about operation of the plant, “The plant is primarily fuelled by liquids, coming from waste and residual flows from the food industry. After a preliminary treatment, the products are fed into the fermenters, where they then undergo a heavily controlled fermentation process. The biogas produced during this process is then converted into electricity and heat using co-generation engines.”

The plant has a total power of 3MW and will produce 21GWh, which corresponds to the energy use of around 6,000 households. The vast portion of the energy produced will be used by the neighbouring company Antwerp Gateway; with the remainder being directly injected into the grid. The residual heat will be used for prior and subsequent treatment of flows and will allow for the plant’s installations to be operated.

With the operation of three biogas plants over the coming twelve months, NPG energy is bucking the dominant trend in Belgium. The situation for producers of sustainable energy has become much less profitable than before 2013.

Until the 1st of January 2013, producers of biogas received green electricity-production certificates upon operation of the plant. However, since this date, subsidies have been drastically reduced and limited to a ten-year period. An extension of five years is possible upon application following this period, but without any guarantee.

Daniel Christnach, member of the Board of Directors at NPG energy and Head of Renewable Energies & Cogeneration with Enovos states, “Bio-methane plants play a key role in the fleet of energy production plants on the basis of renewable energies. With their continuous production, they contribute towards balancing production using from intermittent plants such as wind farms and photovoltaic production and are, therefore, able to guarantee the stability of energy supply for the grid.”

These sustainable plants will provide a potential remedy to a shorting in production in Belgium and thereby provide an impetus to growth in industry in general.

Eventually, the biogas sector will not only be able to replace a large gas power plant of 400MW, but also play a key role in other sectors such as transportation by transforming gas into CNG (compressed natural gas) for vehicles. However, the sustainable energy sector is also responsible for job creation.

NPG energy opened a first biogas plant in Tongeren in 2012, simultaneously creating 100 direct and indirect jobs. The new plant in Antwerp will employ four direct members of staff and lead to 30 to 40 indirect jobs.

This has been made possible thanks to the arrival of Enovos Luxembourg as majority shareholder. In August 2013, Enovos Luxembourg increased its holdings in NPG energy to 50.98%.

In the coming years, NPG energy will continue to invest in the development of sustainable energy production in Belgium.