Ros Roca taps into Dennis Eagle to fuel AD voyage

Since Spanish giant Ros Roca crossed these shores to acquire Dennis Eagle, plans have been hatching to provide a novel, closed loop anaerobic digestion solution for the UK market. Mike Gerber reports

In 1588, the Spanish Armada embarked on a mission to invade these shores, an offensive repelled by the English naval fleet. In 2008, Spanish-owned waste sector multi-national Ros Roca embarked on a new kind of invasion of Britain - establishing the subsidiary Ros Roca IMA UK. An invasion we should this time welcome, because it holds out exiting prospects for the generation of waste-derived green energy and vehicle fuel, and the generation of quality jobs for our recession-embattled workforce.

In an arrangement just announced that will build on connections with vehicle manufacturer Dennis Eagle, a sister company in the Ros Roca Environment group, the new UK venture claims to offer a unique proposition - the ability to produce renewable energies and fuels from treatment of almost any kind of waste stream. Bio-waste, household waste, green waste, food and kitchen waste, packaged food waste, residues from food beverage and processing industries, manure and slaughter house waste and energy crops (silage) - Ros Roca can handle it all.

The new UK subsidiary will be able to tap into Ros Roca IMA's expertise in anaerobic digestion (AD), aerobic, MBT, biogas upgrade and cryogenics process technologies, and Dennis's contacts with UK waste contractors and local authorities. The main focus will be on AD, a field in which Ros Roca boasts prominence. Across Europe, Ros Roca IMA has more than 30 AD and composting plants in operation, using Ros Roca technology known as single stage wet mesophilic that breaks down organic materials.

This releases useful by-products, including biogas. When AD is used with a combined heat and power plant, the biogas can be combusted to provide electricity for the AD process or the national grid, and heat for homes. The biogas can be further refined, to 90% methane, to produce fuel-related products. Dennis' role in supporting the venture will be twofold, explains Ros Roca IMA UK general manager Ian Handley.

Teamwork fuels partnership working
"In terms of developing bio-fuel, the two companies can work together with a client that's looking to run his vehicles on CNG or LNG (compressed or liquefied natural gas)," he explains. "We can jointly supply vehicles that run on CNG or LNG generated from our waste treatment technology. The vehicles collect the waste, the waste is then taken to a waste treatment facility which we provide, in this case AD, then via a gas upgrade and our cryogenic technology which is within the group as well, we can produce CNG or LNG for the vehicles, so the loop is closed. We're the only company that can do that."

Handley says there is a degree of synergy in terms of contacts. As the Ros Roca name is not that well known yet within the UK, he believes the association with Dennis Eagle has already given the company "considerable credibility" within the market. "Dennis is a major player on refuse vehicles, so there's a myriad of contacts both at ground level, and with the waste management contractor side at a very high level. There's an enormous benefit to us as a start-up to quickly go to a very senior level of the key players," he explains.

Treatment solutions still in demand
Given the global economic crisis, why has this move come about now? "From our point of view, I have to say, throughout the world - put funding on one side - in terms of projects there is no recession on the waste treatment market. Everyone I know is completely snowed under with enquiries," maintains Handley.

He is also confident that the new UK operation will become quickly established and backs this up with the revelation that Ros Roca is in advanced talks with two clients. "We're at the point where we think we're going to get multiple orders. One client has already got a site with the planning permission and wants to move into the design stage. Another client has identified the site, but it's pre-planning, so we're going to help them on the planning process."

With many people losing their jobs in all sorts of sectors, what does the link-up mean in terms of creating employment opportunities in the UK? "It won't have any direct impact on Dennis - which in itself is very successful at the moment - but from my operation, in securing those orders hopefully, what it will then do is establish an infrastructure in the UK. So yes, we will be able to supply jobs both on the technology and the project management side," confirms Handley.

He adds: "What we're seeing is a demand on the merchant side - potentially commercial waste - but also perhaps source-segregated municipal waste. We're typically seeing capacity that begins going in about 50 tonnes, towards 75,000 tonnes. That sort of plant size will generate up to 2MW of power, potentially exportable. So we have aspirations over five years to build 10 plants of that nature. So our contribution on that scale of things is 20MW of energy from AD."

Mike Gerber is a freelance journalist

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