Greenlane, ZEG Biogás to establish biogas upgrading product in Brazil
April 17, 2023
By Greenlane Renewables
B.C.-based Greenlane Renewables Inc. has entered into a collaborative agreement with ZEG Biogás e Energia S.A., a company 50 per cent owned by Vibra Energia S.A., previously the fuel distribution unit of Petrobras, to locally produce, market and sell one of Greenlane’s largest and most popular biogas upgrading products in Brazil.
Under the terms of the agreement, Greenlane and ZEG Biogás will collaborate to establish, locally in Brazil, volume production of Greenlane’s Totara+ Water Wash Biogas Upgrading Product, one that is capable of processing up to 2,500 Nm3/h of inlet biogas. ZEG Biogás has been granted exclusive rights to localize the supply chain and manufacture the product in Brazil under the Greenlane brand and to market and sell the product to biomethane producing projects in which ZEG Biogás has an equity stake or a biomethane off-take agreement. Greenlane retains responsibility for the product design, the supply of components not available locally in Brazil, and the local commissioning and servicing of the products. Initial target markets are those of landfills and sugar mills. ZEG Biogás’ goal is to reach the production of 75 Totara+ systems in the next 5-years. Production capacity will be phased in over time, with a minimum volume commitment in the first two years.
VIBRA, a publicly-traded company, is the result of the privatization process of Petrobras Distribuidora, and one of Brazil’s largest energy companies and leader in the fuel distribution market. VIBRA has committed to invest up to R$412 million (CAD$109 million) in the ZEG Biogás business over the next few years, for the execution of new biogas/biomethane projects.
“We have worked with ZEG Biogás for many years and have been impressed by the progress achieved and the partnerships formed, turning into reality the large landfill and even larger sugar mill waste biomethane opportunities that exist in Brazil,” said Brad Douville, CEO of Greenlane. “With VIBRA’s 50 per cent ownership of ZEG Biogás and its significant commitment of capital, the result is the most important deal we have done to-date at Greenlane. We believe it opens up an excellent opportunity to accelerate the production of biomethane in Brazil, at an industrial scale, and to solidify Greenlane’s market leading position, together with a very capable and ambitious local partner. This transaction is also a shift in our standard business model. Under this agreement, we’re evolving our current build and production process to proliferate Greenlane’s biogas upgrading technology at the lowest installed cost and quickest delivery times. It provides revenue under a new royalty-like business model, together with ongoing service contracts.”
“The production of equipment on Brazilian soil will bring agility to the development of projects and a reduction in final costs, allowing ZEG Biogás to deliver a sustainable and more competitive fuel to the market,” highlights Kwami Alfama Correia, CEO of ZEG Biogás. Mr. Correia believes that the partnership will be prosperous for both sides, boosting national production of biomethane with the use of cutting-edge technology, recognized worldwide. “The water wash technology is considered one of the most advanced in the world in the purification of biogas from urban solid waste and agricultural waste, due to its robustness and consistency,” added Correia.
The Brazilian sugarcane sector is a promising new and immense market opportunity for biomethane. Today, there are more than 330 sugar mills across the country engaged in the production of sugar and ethanol biofuel. The latter produces vast quantities of a liquid byproduct called vinasse, which is an untapped and ideal feedstock for the production of biomethane. The ethanol biofuel production industry in Brazil dates back to the 1970s and today the country is the world’s second largest producer. The consumption of ethanol biofuel is equivalent to gasoline volumes in the country’s transportation sector.
The sugarcane industry in Brazil has a history of successfully finding ways to maximize the energy value of the crop. The industry began with the production of sugar, then added ethanol, then later added the use of bagasse as a biomass feedstock to generate electricity and send it to the grid. Bagasse is the waste byproduct from the crushing of sugarcane. Over the last 30 years, bagasse-to-power has spread to two thirds of sugar mills in Brazil. This rapid adoption reflects the huge potential for vinasse-to-biomethane. Biomethane production from sugar mill waste across the entire sector has the potential to exceed the total current natural gas consumption in Brazil.
ZEG Biogás has developed and built unique digester and hydrogen sulfide removal technology engineered to maximize the production of biomethane from vinasse. Greenlane has supplied the biogas upgrading system for the first commercial-scale pipeline injection biomethane project in the Brazilian sugarcane industry and is the market leading provider of biogas upgrading systems in the country.
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