Innovative Cornish company Bennamann is on a mission to deliver a local clean energy revolution by unlocking the power of biomethane sourced from organic waste as a green fuel to help decarbonise the transport and heating sectors.
The company is working with a range of partners and local farmers piloting projects to develop renewable fuel from manure slurry biogas, in turn helping to create a carbon-neutral Cornwall.
Bennamann has been benefitting from high-quality and modern workshop space at Sector 2 at Aerohub Business Park, since moving there in 2019. The office and workshop space at Sector 2 complements the company’s sister site on a farm near Truro, which is home to the research and development arm of the business.
Currently Bennamann is working in partnership with Cornwall Council and Corserv on a pilot project which will see six of the county’s tenant dairy farms have biogas created from slurry captured, processed and distributed for use in Cormac’s growing fleet of biomethane-fuelled vehicles. If the pilot is a success, the technology will be considered for roll-out to more farms in the Council Farms Estate, helping Cornwall achieve its net-zero carbon by 2030 target while pioneering green recovery and delivering on its local industrial strategy.
In another, parallel, £1.22 million ground breaking project, the company aims to create and prove technologies, business models and a value chain that not only enables agricultural to become low-carbon by using animal waste to deliver energy, but also helps farms become energy independent and more sustainable while saving costs and creating added income for their business. The Energy Independent Farming project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Dr Tim Fox, Head of Marketing and Public Affairs at Bennamann, said: “We aim to become synonymous around the world with this type of innovation and pioneering work. The company set out to help produce renewable energy that is commercially viable from day one, and offer a better, lasting and positive legacy for future generations.
“Our ultimate ambition is to be a leading player in the global energy market based on a revolution in local clean energy.
“This method will help to create a circular economy for agriculture and will certainly be applicable across the UK and well beyond.
“We are developing technology to cover every step of the whole biomethane supply chain, from handling and processing the slurry itself through to the innovative tank technologies needed to transport and use the fuel produced, and every element in between.
“We have started with dairy farms but will move into other livestock areas as well. If there is muck, we will use it!”
But the company’s not just focused on farms. Another business model the team are currently progressing enables the production of biomethane from grass cuttings, opening up new opportunities for local communities and land owners to participate in the energy market too.
This project allows communities to be able to implement technology to utilise the grass they already have to maintain, such as on sports grounds, village greens, school playing fields and roadside verges. By using grass cuttings – something that is already a waste product that often attracts a fee for disposal – to produce energy, communities, and land owners, will be able to save on costs and create additional income.
The business has already completed a Tevi-funded ‘grass to gas’ feasibility study at Cornwall Airport Newquay. While it is looking to develop the programme in Cornwall initially, the plan is to roll it out beyond the county in the future.
Bennamann is also heavily involved in internet technology, and the use of space-based assets will help the business remotely operate its own technology, monitor the equipment, diagnose and troubleshoot any issues, meter for production volumes and prospect for methane from grass. The company is working closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) Data to look at prospective areas of grass, using satellite technology, to understand how to optimise the best energy use from it, and is currently progressing towards a trial using this equipment.
And that’s one of the reasons that Bennamann took up residence at Sector 2. The company – which currently has a 38-strong team – has its eye firmly set on the future, and, ultimately, expansion.
Tim said: “Our office and workshop space at Sector 2 offers a great opportunity for expansion, there is room for us to grow, which I certainly anticipate we will need to explore.
“We wanted to be on a modern site, with modern facilities. We also wanted to be close to the airport, as there are projects we are hoping to do on the airfield itself, as well as, of course, many more across the UK and beyond. Our offices are also close to Spaceport Cornwall, which may offer future opportunities for us too.
“Connectivity was very important to us, and Sector 2 is on a flagship site that is very easy for people to find and to get to. Moving here was good for us on many levels.”
Sector 2 is the flagship gateway development at the entrance to Aerohub Business Park, at Cornwall Airport Newquay.
It is one of a series of developments owned by Cornwall Council and managed by Cornwall Development Company. It offers nine high quality office suites alongside eight modern industrial workshops. It was developed by Cornwall Council, with co-funding from ERDF, as part of the Cornwall and Isles Scilly Growth Programme.
For more information about Sector 2 and other developments managed by Cornwall Development Company, visit www.choosecornwall.co.uk