Global energy firm TotalEnergies and Vanguard Renewables are forming a 50-50 joint venture to develop and operate farm-powered renewable natural gas (RNG) projects in the US.

Vanguard Renewables specialises in farm-based organics-to-RNG production in the US and was acquired by BlackRock’s infrastructure business in 2022.

The joint venture will advance 10 RNG projects into construction over the next 12 months, with a total annual RNG capacity of 800GWh. The first three projects are under construction in Wisconsin and Virginia, each with a unit capacity of nearly 75GWh per year.

Beyond these first 10 projects, the partners will consider investing together in a potential pipeline of about 60 projects across the country for a total capacity of 5TWh per year.

Total Energies, Vanguard Renewables agreement

Source: Vanguard Renewables

Left to right: Doug Vaccari, BlackRock; Neil H Smith, Vanguard Renewables; Larry Fink, BlackRock; Patrick Pouyanné, TotalEnergies; John Hanselman, Vanguard Renewables; Olivier Guerrini, TotalEnergies

Olivier Guerrini, vice president for biogas at TotalEnergies, said: “By expanding into this fast-growing market, our joint venture will create value for both companies while benefiting the food and farming sectors as well as providing a ready-to-use solution to industrial companies willing to decarbonise their energy supply. This joint venture is a new step for TotalEnergies in achieving its objective to produce 10TWh of renewable natural gas by 2030.

Headquartered near Boston, Massachusetts, Vanguard Renewables was founded in 2014 and has a workforce of approximately 260. The company currently operates 17 organics-to-renewable energy facilities with an annual capacity of more than 440 GWh of RNG. It plans to commission more than 100 RNG projects by the end of 2028, the company said.

Neil H Smith, CEO of Vanguard Renewables, said: “We are thrilled to welcome TotalEnergies as a strategic partner, building on our mission of developing farm-based organics-to-RNG projects across the US. This collaboration validates Vanguard’s leadership position in the RNG space in the US and brings together our expertise with TotalEnergies’ extensive experience in large-scale energy development, safety procedures and global partnerships.

“These 10 RNG projects, jointly undertaken by TotalEnergies and Vanguard Renewables as co-investment partners, further reinforce our commitment and ability to deliver on our mission of harnessing the power of waste to decarbonise our planet.”

TotalEnergies and Vanguard Renewables said they will market the RNG through long-term purchase agreements with buyers actively engaged in decarbonisation of their industrial processes.

“This exciting partnership brings together TotalEnergies’ global experience in scaling and operating renewable gas assets with Vanguard Renewables’ market-leading position in the US, extensive operational history and customer relationships and robust project portfolio,” said Doug Vaccari, managing director for diversified infrastructure at BlackRock. “With TotalEnergies as a strategic partner, Vanguard Renewables will be positioned to achieve even stronger growth and continued success.”

The JV partners said the first 10 projects are based on a model of waste materials recovery from the food and beverage industries, supplemented with dairy manure from dairy farms. The anaerobic digesters will be built on the dairy farms themselves, which will then recover and manage the digestate (a byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process) as a low-carbon and nutrient dense fertiliser.

To feed its digesters, Vanguard Renewables said it has established a network of food industry brands across the US, including the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance, which gives Alliance members preferred access to recycle their organic waste generated from manufacturing or retail activities and the potential opportunity to purchase the renewable energy generated at a Vanguard Renewables’ facility. The Alliance’s members include multi-national corporations across several verticals, including leading food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

In anticipation of the company’s growing portfolio of anaerobic digesters, Vanguard Renewables has expanded its food and beverage diversion services and its organics solutions team to provide service throughout the US.

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