This post is a part of BioBiz’s Bio-CNG Perspectives.
BioBiz, a division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian bio-based sectors.
This blog post uses the terms bio-CNG and renewable natural gas (RNG) interchangeably.
Bio-CNG or bio-compressed natural gas, also known as sustainable natural gas or biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater. As the gas is derived from natural and renewable sources, it is also termed renewable natural gas (RNG).
Bio-CNG is an emerging segment in India. With the Indian Government planning to set up 5000 plants by 2025, the industry is expected to be marked by several entrepreneurs and large players. For businesses to have competitive advantages, it is essential to explore innovative business opportunities across the RNG value chain. Some of these opportunities include innovations in the end products and end user markets.
This blog post highlights some emerging opportunities in these segments of the RNG value chain.
1. Innovations in end user markets
Mobile fuel vending
This is the end use segment or the B2C segment of the value chain. Mobile fuel vending is the supply of liquid or gaseous fuels to the consumers in large tankers . It has a self contained fuel dispensing unit which has been designed to meet the needs of fuel distributors who’s customers require ‘metered’ deliveries of fuel into plant equipment, building sites, generators, boats, green houses etc. This is an emerging opportunity for RNG manufacturing companies to explore using appropriate business models once their business has stabilized.
2. Innovations in end products
In future, the following are some of the new product possibilities businesses can consider:
- Very high quality NG (>95% methane)
While the RNG that is derived from purified biogas has over 90% methane, more efficient purification processes can result in RNG that has over 95% methane. Such a high concentration of methane will enable the businesses to differentiate the RNG on quality.
- Very high quality fertilizer – liquid & solid fertilizer
Both the solid and liquid fertilizer digestate that are derived from the anaerobic digestion process can be further refined and upgraded to result in higher quality fertilizers. For instance, industry experts suggest that enriching the digestate with phosphate can significantly increase its value as a fertilizer
Most of the anaerobic digestion plants in existence today do not capture the CO2 that is removed from the biogas when it is upgraded to RNG. CO2 however has a market value that can be monetized (values of Rs 700-1000/ton can be realized under optimal conditions). Thus, one of the future possibilities for a potential investor is to design the system such that the CO2 is captured and monetized, which significantly enhances the financial viability of the project.
Where the source of feedstock is municipal solid waste (MSW), an investor can also consider sourcing the MSW as a whole that contains all the components, including the recyclables. Under this scenario, they can also consider monetizing the recyclable portion of the MSW.
- Other sustainable energy products offered to same customers
Another valuable product opportunity for an investor will be to offer a portfolio of sustainable energy solutions to the clients who purchase the RNG. The typical customers for RNG for an investor are commercial units and industries, the same entities who are currently interested in migrating to a set of sustainable sources for all their energy needs. These include rooftop solar for electricity, solar thermal for heating, cooking or drying, biomass-based heating or industrial drying, energy efficiency solutions and more. The investor has the opportunity, over a period, to use the access to his customer base to sell such relevant and related sustainable energy solutions.
RNG market is an emerging segment and businesses have many such opportunities to explore to have a competitive advantage, at the same time offer the customers a value added service.
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