Change in UK market brings renewables opportunities

Stephen McCulloch, Managing Director of Chesterfield BioGas
Stephen McCulloch, Managing Director of Chesterfield BioGas
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The UK may lag behind when it comes to exploiting the potential of biogas, but Sheffield-based Chesterfield BioGas is right at the forefront.

The company was established around five years ago by the Pressure Technologies Group, when it was looking for opportunities to diversify and add new operations to its core hi-tech cylinders business, Chesterfield Special Cylinders.

“We could see the energy market in the UK was changing and how the concept of using renewables was being introduced, based on the experience of some of the Scandinavian countries,” says Chesterfield BioGas’s managing director, Stephen McCulloch.

Recognising common ground between the biogas sector and the group’s cylinders operation, Chesterfield BioGas was formed and began looking at the available technologies, deciding to partner with a company in New Zealand, called Greenlane.

“There are other technologies that can be used to clean biogas, but we chose Greenlane,” says Mr McCulloch.

“They are a company with a similar work ethic to Pressure Technologies. They understood that they could not expand enough on their own to cover the whole globe and looked at licensing their technology and establishing a partnership.

“We liked the way they worked, the evolution of the technology and the fact that the agreement enabled us to manufacture as well as sell. We are a manufacturing group and always wanted to not just sell, but get our hands mucky!”

Chesterfield BioGas was also taken with the versatility of Greenlane’s ‘Upgraders,’ which can be used anywhere in the world, from the heat of Brazil to the cold of Sweden, will clean gas from Anaerobic Digesters processing anything from sewage to energy crops and can cope with varying volumes.

In the early years, growth was limited by factors outside Chesterfield BioGas’s control.

There was a change of government in the UK and in European legislation, which meant getting the necessary licences to use Greenlane’s technology in the UK took longer than expected.

Chesterfield BioGas also had to convince gas utilities that its Upgraders could be configured to produce a biogas that could be directly injected into the gas mains, while local authority planners had to get up to speed with what was involved in approving applications for AD plants and upgraders.

Now, however, the market is starting to take off and Chesterfield BioGas is reaping the rewards of its investment in becoming one of the very first UK-based businesses on the scene.

Stephen McCulloch believes that being based in the UK and part of a group with an established reputation for innovation, technology and supplying high quality, safety critical products to global clients, is a distinct advantage.

Add to that the high levels of customer care that Chesterfield BioGas is offering and you can begin to see how the company has managed to gain a dominant position in the embryonic sector.

Chesterfield BioGas prides itself on offering to visit clients using its technology every month.

“We could offer a maintenance contract that would mean visiting twice a year, but we wanted to give customers the reassurance,” says Stephen McCulloch.

“It means they can rely on someone turning up every month to provide further training, a diagnostic report and to carry out any maintenance.”