Green Elephant

A young German entrepreneur has set up a company that own and operate biogas plants in emerging markets in South-East Asia

His father was working in Africa and South America developing health and infrastructure projects. As a young boy Felix-Michael Weber had the opportunity to travel to emerging countries. In 2004, he travelled to India and realized that the ‘Indian elephant’ was sleeping. He realized that Germany is a leading country in wind and renewable energy. Germany had the most installed wind assets, solar capacity and most of the bio-gas plants. “I felt I had to take the technology to the right market – India,” says Weber. In 2006, he started developing wind farms with German technology in Karnataka. He raised funds for wind farms and later for bio-gas and started doing business here.

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Talking of challenges in setting up a business here, he said signing contracts in India is very different. “It’s more about creating a relationship, specially when one has to do projects in rural areas. The language and cultural understanding is the biggest challenge,” adds Weber. Travelling along Karnataka and Maharashtra, he saw big sugar companies and realized sugar waste could be feed stock for bio-gas plants.

Green Elephant was established in 2008 in Germany with the focused strategy to build, own and operate biogas plants in emerging markets in South-East Asia and Africa. Our company has developed a unique project design, biogas- and gas cleaning technology for large-scale as well as standardized, medium sized biogas plants (The GreenBox). With our engineering arm Green Elephant Engineering, based in Pune – India, we offer our clients innovative gas processing technology for biomethane production and gas up gradation. With our financing arm we have the capability to invest in large scale waste-to-energy projects based on long term off-take agreements.

Green Elephant has set up its first large scale biogas plant in India’s sugar belt at Satara District in Maharashtra in November 2010, where it consumes approximately 200,000 m³ of organic sugarcane waste per annum and generates approximately 8 million m³ of gas per annum. Green Elephant is currently developing and investing three additional plants in India and intends to build a pipeline of six additional large scale plants in 2012.

Green Elephant has set up two mid-scale biogas plants for the Pune Municipal Corporation in Pune and in 2011 Green Elephant is building two new plants. The mid-scale biogas plants are using five to ten tons of organic waste per day which is taken from canteens, hotels, restaurants and private households in Pune. The plant converts the waste via anaerobic digestion to biogas, which is further converted into electricity.

The company has set up its first standardized and pre-fabricated biogas plant – the GreenBox – in Mumbai in September 2011. The GreenBox is a mini power plant, offering the facility to process organic waste to clean gas. The plant converts the waste via anaerobic digestion to biogas, which is further used as a cooking fuel in the colony by residents. The GreenBox is engineered as a state of the art product in regard to design, functionality and performance. The GreenBox™ is build by Green Elephant in Pune and is quickly to install. It is simple to operate and is expected to change the concept of how waste is currently managed in India.

Green Elephant intends to promote the GreenBox in various sizes throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. Currently Green Elephant is focusing on India as the country offers a wide range of opportunities to capitalize on organic waste in an environmental friendly way. Since India is facing a shortage of domestic natural gas supply – especially in rural areas Green Elephant has developed a unique project design to supply compressed biogas at a competitive price to industrial customers, wholesalers and the automotive sector. Green Elephant believes that biogas from renewable sources can play a recognizable role in Indias renewable energy development.

Interestingly, this company provides a variety of biogas plants to satisfy different needs of India’s diverse demographical structure. “Our main motives were the promotion of the Bio-CNG technology and the innovative character of the project. The production of Bio-CNG from renewable sources is adding to the agricultural sector an increasing importance in the future. Farmers will be in the position to provide green fuels to the vehicular market,” adds Weber.

Green Elephant´s health and safety guidelines follow the highest standards and we are taking care not only for our own business and employees but also for our family of stakeholders, such as suppliers and contractors. We take concrete measures to assure safe and reliable operation of our assets which include health and safety ratings for contractor selection, job safety analysis, control of work procedures and incident reporting. As we are developing most of our projects in developing markets, especially in rural areas, we intend to share our profits with all stakeholders. Together with the providers of our feed-stock we have agreed to set up a positive signal and will try our best to fight against climate change and increasing pollution.

Green Elephant realizes the importance of clean energy to promote sustainable development especially in rural areas. Coal and oil have traditionally been used to fuel the power needs of energy-hungry developing countries, though this comes at a huge cost to the environment. Emissions from coal, petrol or diesel driven engines not only accelerate climate change but also affect the health of millions of people worldwide. We believe every cubic meter of clean gas generated to replace coal fired power is a step in the right direction. Green Elephant aims to develop its biogas projects as a CDM project (Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol) in order to generate additional revenue from selling Carbon Credits (CERs).

In 2013, Green Elephant Engineering has officially inaugurated its new model of an innovative fully automatic standardized and pre-fabricated small scale biogas plant – the GreenBox in Pune, at the premises of Volkswagen India. The GreenBox is a mini power plant, offering the facility to process 0.5 tons of organic waste per day to clean gas for Volkswagens canteen. Volkswagen will reduce its CO2 emission by 18 tons per annum. Green Elephant has been shortlisted by the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft e. V. as a top innovator for promoting its pre-fabricated small scale biogas plant – the GreenBox in emerging markets.