The Dutch National LNG Platform celebrates its 10 year anniversary. Through five articles, we look back at 10 years (bio) LNG development in the Netherlands. Hereby the fourth article in which we discuss the belief in and the safe production of bio-LNG from Dutch soil.
More than a year ago, SFP Group did not yet exist. Today, the company owns a green gas installation in Zeeland and is building two new bio-LNG installations in Groningen and Friesland. “I firmly believe in biogas and the role that biogas plays in the circular economy, I have lost my heart to that,” said Niels Peters, one of the owners of SFP Group. A story of two entrepreneurs who want to put the production of sustainable fuels from Dutch soil on the map, without one cent of government subsidy.
“In October 2019 I was in Friesland together with Erik Brouwer where we came across an empty plot in the port of Harlingen: a wonderful place to set up a potential green gas installation. That’s where the idea arose to develop beautiful things together. We took the plunge and after we got an option on the ground in January 2020, we resigned and we went full time together.”
a potential green gas installation. That’s where the idea arose to develop beautiful things together. We took the plunge
and after we got an option on the ground in January 2020, we resigned from our jobs and we went full time
And then the balls started to roll. At the beginning of 2020, it was announced that Rederij Doeksen is interested in bio-LNG. After SFP Group
informs the shipping company about their plans, the parent company of Rederij Doeksen, Koninklijke Doeksen, participates in the SFP Group project in Harlingen, as does green gas stimulator Gasterra. Niels Peters continues: “This gave us sufficient budget to jointly implement our multi-year plan.
We then also took an option on a plot in Delfzijl and as of January 1st, 2021 we also acquired the existing green gas installation of Aben in Westdorpe. We acted quickly to spread our risks and because we want to further roll out our reproducible green gas concept both at home and abroad.”
Niels Peters and Erik Brouwer have been working in biogas for many years and have committed themselves to the sector. Niels Peters: “I firmly believe in biogas and the role it plays in the circular economy. Why? With biomass, we always look at the cascading of certain residual flows: we try to extract value from the residual flows in as many ways as possible. Biogas is almost at the bottom of the line in terms of value. As a final step, we ferment the residual flows, from which we make bio-LNG for transport and create a nice organic fertilizer for fertilizing arable land. This completes the circle.”
The new installations that SFP Group is developing are smaller, further developed versions of the existing installation in Zeeland. Niels Peters continues: “Bio-LNG is new to us and for the Netherlands when you look at the production. I have been producing bio-LNG since 2012, which turned out to be difficult. A few years ago, everyone wanted bio-LNG, but no one wanted to pay for it. Bio-LNG shouldn’t cost more than a fossil fuel. That’s impossible, sustainable fuel is always slightly more expensive than fossil fuels, which is why it didn’t get off the ground a few years ago. The market has really taken off in the last year, making people willing to pay for sustainable biofuel. And then also bio-LNG from Dutch soil, how nice is that?”
The production of green gas and fertilizers stems from the fermentation of biomass, a sensitive subject in the Netherlands. Niels Peters: “Biomass has acquired a negative charge in recent years. I think that’s really unnecessary. We prefer to use the term bio-raw materials. At our installation in Zeeland we work with co-fermentation: at least 50% animal manure and 50% co-products. In Groningen and Friesland we do not use manure because there is no manure surplus there, the product is simply not available there. We consciously choose to use residual flows in those places that are available, i.e. mainly products that no longer have any other application for humans or animals. Innovation around the circular economy will only increase in this way.”
Niels Peters continues: “The image of biogas is not very good in the Netherlands. If you search for biogas or fermentation on Google, there is little positive news to be found, which is a shame. You know what people often forget? If there are no such installations, what happens to these residual flows? Residual flows exist and will always exist, they must be processed safely somewhere. It used to be easy, when we threw everything in the landfill with all the associated emissions. Landfills have been closed, but the residual flows have remained and even more have been added. A lot of people don’t stop to think about that. And I assure you, it is really possible to process residual flows in a safe and responsible manner without causing any nuisance to the environment. As long as you know what you’re doing. The development of techniques continues to progress, companies are learning more and more, it is a relatively young market that is developing towards maturity.”