Ethical crowdfunding platform opens investments on anaerobic digestion


AN ETHICAL investment crowdfunding platform has launched an offer to invest in an Anaerobic Digestion plant on a farm in Staffordshire.

Anaerobic Digestion is a circular economy technology, which works by using waste materials to generate biogas, which is combusted in a Combined Heat and Power Unit to generate heat and electricity.

The digestate that remains is a nutrient-rich fertiliser which is used on the farm and neighbouring farms, so nothing is wasted.

Agrogen will be the first in a series of investments in a portfolio of Anaerobic Digestion plants owned and run by farmer Rob Greenow.

Mr Greenow commented on the news: “Agricultural ‘waste’ is a valuable resource, providing not only renewable energy but also fertiliser which can be used on local farms.

“We’re excited about enabling like-minded investors to share our enthusiasm!”

This is Abundance Investment Ltd’s, which offers an online investment platform for projects from social housing to green energy, first foray into Anaerobic Digestion following many requests from its customers.

Since launching in 2012, more than 6,000 people have invested over £100m directly into the projects they support via Abundance, with over £25m returned to investors.

The investment, Agrogen, uses the heat on the farm to dry logs sold for domestic use.

Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director of Abundance, added: “Anaerobic Digestion is the unsung hero of the renewable energy sector and we have been looking for an investment in this sector for many years.

“People like Rob are showing farmers how they can make an important contribution to our green recovery – not only through producing homegrown food, but homegrown energy too.

“Agrogen is a great opportunity for investors to support a circular economy solution that can help UK agriculture to build back better after the pandemic.”

The investment is an offer of debentures paying a return of 7.1% IRR for 16 years which seeks to raise up to £2.65 million.

The proceeds will refinance an operational Anaerobic Digestion plant and fund upgrades to the technology allowing it to process a larger variety of farm waste.

The plant has an installed capacity to produce up to 250kw of electricity and 549kW of heat.

It currently operates on a feedstock comprising maize (purpose-grown on local farms including where the Anaerobic Digestion unit is located) and locally sourced farmyard manures.

The technology upgrade – a BioCrusher – has been developed by BioG GmbH, set up by one of Agrogen’s directors and based in Austria.

It breaks down the feedstock, allowing the plant to use a wider range of farm waste, particularly straw and slurry, displacing the need for purpose-grown maize.

It will also improve the plant’s reliability and efficiency.

The plant also receives an income from the Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.

Mr Greenow has a portfolio of three Anaerobic Digestion plants, which are operated and maintained by his specialist agricultural and Anaerobic Digestion services company BioG UK, which also operates another large food waste plant.

This investment is the first of a series that he proposes to launch on Abundance to refinance his existing Anaerobic Digestion installations and fund the expansion of the business.

Mr Greenow continued: “We want to lead the Anaerobic Digestion industry by improving our environmental performance even further and the BioCrusher will help us do that.

“This technology, already used successfully in Austria, offers a greener and better way for farms using Anaerobic Digestion to generate energy from their waste products.”

The technology has potential to be rolled out to many more Anaerobic Digestion plants in the UK, enabling them to run on a broader range of wastes, reducing the need for energy crops and helping UK farmers build a more circular farming economy.

The minimum investment in Agrogen debentures is £5, and it is eligible to be held in an innovative finance ISA.

More information is available here