Waste 360: Vanguard Renewables’ Neil Smith Discusses Aggressive Expansion Plans

Waste 360 article

The global anaerobic digestion (AD) market will reach $15.28 billion by 2025, forecasts Brandessence Market Research; other research firms make similar projections, and North America is dominating in this space.

Arlene Karidis | Jun 27, 2022

The global anaerobic digestion (AD) market will reach $15.28 billion by 2025, forecasts Brandessence Market Research; other research firms make similar projections, and North America is dominating in this space. Driving the trend are policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, growing demand for renewable energy, and federal and some state incentives to invest in renewable natural gas (RNG) sourced from methane.

Vanguard Renewables is among enterprises tapping into that market. With 10 anaerobic digesters in operation, the company anticipates huge growth in the next few years, with contracts at over 120 farms—projects that are on track to be completed by 2026, says Vanguard Renewables CEO Neil Smith.

Smith discussed with Waste360 partnerships with the farming, energy, and food and beverage industries that are propelling the rapid trajectory. He talks about why Vanguard, who has done organics co-digestion for some time, added on manure-only to renewable natural gas . Smith names food and beverage majors that will become the company’s feedstock anchors. And he discusses an interesting partnership with a utility and college that demonstrates a circular system.

Waste360: Tell us about Vanguard’s progress in the organics-to-renewable space and near-future plans.

Smith: Working with some of the nation’s largest food and beverage manufacturers, we are diverting food and beverage waste and also making renewable natural gas on multi-generational dairy farms around the country.

Since 2014, Vanguard Renewables has mitigated nearly 500,000 tons of GHG emissions and recycled more than 862,000 tons of organic waste.

We are committed to growing our business across the country and are on track to build at least 100 additional anaerobic digesters by 2026 across both our co-digestion and manure-only platforms.

Waste360: Why did you launch your Renewables Ag division (expansion into manure-only)?

Smith: In 2019, we launched our Vanguard Renewables Ag division in partnership with Dominion Energy, expanding our business to manure-only to renewable natural gas and working with larger dairy farms. Methane emissions from the dairy industry make up only 2 percent of the nation’s total GHG emissions, but that is still a significant contributor to the climate crisis. Our goal is to help our farm partners manage their manure in a new and sustainable way that also generates renewable natural gas to offset fossil fuel use.

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