April 22, 2020 | AD & Biogas, Composting

Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Infrastructure Investment Insights

Infrastructure news in December 2019 highlights organics recycling opportunities.

On Dec. 10, Atlas Organics, Inc., an organics hauler and composter, announced it received $21.4 million in project development capital from Spring Lane Capital (SLC). “This investment gives us dedicated infrastructure capital to design, build, and operate composting facilities for public and private partners to provide much needed organics recycling infrastructure,” explains Joseph McMillin, CEO of Atlas. “The capital commitments are ideal for Atlas as we look to Atlas Greenvilledevelop and operate small to mid-scale compost manufacturing facilities in multiple geographic areas.” Atlas operates composting sites for the city of Durham, North Carolina (both yard trimming and biosolids composting) and Greenville County, South Carolina (yard trimmings and food waste), and recently won the bid for Indian River County, Florida’s new yard trimmings composting facility. It utilizes extended aerated static pile composting at the 3 sites. The company also collects organics from the commercial, residential and industrial sectors.
Spring Lane Capital focuses its project financing investments on smaller-scale distributed solutions in the energy, food, water and waste sectors. “We identified a gap in the financing market where early stage companies have received investment capital for their start-up, and hit the point where they need to raise project capital for assets like equipment,” notes Nikhil Garg, General Partner at SLC. “This isn’t a stage that traditional venture investors usually fund, as the asset-intensive needs aren’t a good fit for their mandate.” SLC provides investments in the $10 million to $25 million range.

On Dec. 11, Dominion Energy (Dominion) and Vanguard Renewables (VR) announced a more than $200 million, nationwide strategic partnership to build manure-only anaerobic digesters that produce renewable natural gas (RNG) on U.S. dairy farms. Under the strategic partnership, Dominion Energy will own the projects and market the RNG; Vanguard Renewables Ag, a subsidiary of VR, will design, develop and operate the projects. The partners have a strategic alliance with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). The first round of projects are being developed in Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. “DFA was integral in our decision to target these states, which have the density of dairies we need for digester development and RNG production,” says Kevin Chase, VR’s cofounder and chief investment officer. “We are seeking clusters of dairies with a minimum combined total of 20,000 to 30,000 cows to capture the amount of manure needed to make the infrastructure investment.”

Kevin Chase, Vanguard Renewables (left) and Ryan Childress, Dominion Energy (right)

The initial $200 million will fund about 15 digester/RNG facilities over the next 3 to 5 years, adds Ryan Childress, director of Dominion’s gas business development. “Our investments in renewable natural gas are an important part of our company’s comprehensive clean energy strategy. We have made significant investments in solar and offshore wind, and we are very bullish on the future of RNG. We know, from participating in the ag sector with both dairy and swine manure, that the gas quality is strong and consistent. I believe Dominion is leading the way in helping the broader industry recognize the benefits of RNG — both operationally and in terms of sustainability.”

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