A circular way of working

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Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners’ first gasification project, BEN, will help to cover the Netherlands’ domestic gas demand needs while making good use of waste. Demand for such projects is increasing rapidly and there are many other opportunities to capitalise on the demand for green gasses and fuels.

Waste food
Primary product
Dutch sustainable energy transition subsidy

We often think of organic waste as just that – waste.

It is a significant environmental problem when it goes to landfills or incineration. But turning organic waste into biofuels is a huge opportunity, creating high-value products while recirculating nutrients. And as with Copenhagen Infrastruc- ture Partners’ (CIP) BEN project, it helps to cover a domestic gas deficit in the Netherlands by replacing fossil imported natural gas with domestically produced renewable natural gas.

There’s a lot of organic waste in the world, and that is a resource we can mobilise. With projects such as BEN, we are part of reducing reliance on fossil fuels while also reducing waste. And the residues from some of our processes can be put back into the fields as fertiliser and nutrients. So, it’s a true circular way of thinking and working

The Netherlands is shutting down its domestic Groningen gas field and will then rely on imports, so stimulation of domestic production of biogas is a particular focus. BEN is located at Delfzijl in the north of the country. It has an expected annual capacity of 1.6 petajoules, or 45 cubic metres of renewable natural gas, and has ensured an offtake agreement with a national

gas company committed to renewable natural gas.

The project needs about 300,000 tonnes of waste wood per year, which can come from vari- ous sources, including construction sites or post-consumer materials, like old tables or forestry residues. It is heated to about 750 degrees Celsius, at which point gas is released and can be captured, cleaned to remove carbon and then put into the grid. There are strict regulations on the feedstock so that no new wood is used.

Solving the decarbonisation puzzle

Decarbonisation of energy consumption requires a combination of renewable sources, including wind and solar. But a substantial amount cannot be electrified, notably heavy transportation and industry, and this needs other solutions such as hydrogen, through electrolysis, or advanced biofuels. Moreover, Russia’s expanded invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has added a further dimension as countries seek to produce more energy domestically and carbon-free to replace Russian gas supplies.

The BEN project is part of CIP’s CI Advanced Bioenergy Fund I (CI ABF I), which reached first close in April 2022, with €375 million in commitments and a target size of €1 billion. The fund focuses on equity investments in advanced bioenergy infrastructure in Europe and North America, enabling institutional investors to contribute to the energy transition through the production of advanced biofuels and biogas, while delivering cost-efficient and circular solutions for the environment.

Investments will be dark green – with sustaina- ble investment as its sole objective, as defined in the EU regulation Article 9 – based on sustainable feedstock such as waste wood, agricultural biowaste, and household and industrial biowaste.

We are part of the puzzle that is needed to decarbonise society. Demand and interest for our products were already high. Now it’s in even higher demand as countries cut back Russian gas, so biofuels serve a dual purpose.
Expanding opportunities

A final investment decision on BEN is due in early 2023. The project would be undertaken in two stages to mitigate risk: first, to install two units to ensure the process works and get first gas into the grid to meet terms for the subsidy.

Once the technology and process are verified, an additional 16 units will be built on the same site.

“The developers have already built a demo plant exactly the same size we want to build, so we know it works on that scale. So instead of scaling the unit size, we would rather construct smaller similar units, make sure that everything is functioning smoothly, and then expand – it is a significant de-risking of the project,” says Dalsgaard.

Impressive as it is, BEN will only meet a small percentage of Dutch gas demand, so the aim is that it will be just the first of many such plants. As well as Europe, the U.S. is a particularly interesting market, particularly since the recent Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivises green energy.

This is CIP’s first gasification project. If we can make this an investable project, we believe there are many more similar projects out there. We are not tied into one technology with this fund, and we will apply the technology that is most fit for purpose, depend- ing on the different feedstocks. All western countries have similar issues regarding the need for more green gas and fuels, so this is a huge opportunity that is only getting bigger.
More information

CIP's Partner on BEN

Thomas Dalsgaard TDA 0510
Thomas Dalsgaard
Partner at CIP