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Hunter Powell Investments – Cooking with Gas

Hunter Powell Investments – Cooking with Gas

Hunter Powell Investments, led by Tenby Powell and Sharon Hunter, has taken a cornerstone stake in New Zealand-based international Clean Tech Company, Greenlane Biogas.

While Hunter Powell has successfully co-invested with Private Equity firms on three prior occasions, this is the first time they have gone it alone as a PE investor in their own right.

The multi-million dollar company is a leading developer and supplier of technology for upgrading biogas to renewable biomethane. An environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, such as petrol or diesel, it can be used in natural gas pipelines to power industrial plants, for domestic cooking, and as fuel for vehicles.

Hunter Powell, who co-invested with Goldman Sachs (NZ) and, later, Australian PE firm Next Capital, bought into Hirepool in 2003 and Tenby Powell became CEO. Powell has taken on the role of Chief Executive Officer in Greenlane Biogas and has brought his former Hirepool colleague Gordon Peel on board as Chief Financial Officer.

“Greenlane Biogas is a terrific Kiwi export business with some impressive intellectual property, all of which is retained here in New Zealand. It’s very exciting to be involved in a Kiwi business operating internationally,” says Powell. “We see enormous opportunities to further grow this business globally, which has always been at the forefront of the sustainable energy movement. It was ‘Clean-Tech’ and ‘Carbon-Neutral’ long before those phrases were even thought of.”

Established more than 20 years ago, Greenlane Biogas operates in New Zealand, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, The United States and Canada. It has more than 100 staff worldwide, many of whom have been with the company since it began.

Powell says new target markets for Greenlane will include Brazil, China and other parts of Asia, while continuing to capture share of the expanding markets in North America and Europe.

Currently, the amount of biogas Greenlane upgrades to biomethane each year is equivalent to 12 months’ fuel consumption for 140,000 cars. And the market is growing rapidly.

Greenlane offers five biogas upgrading systems, each named after a New Zealand native tree such as Kanuka, Matai, Rimu, Totara and Totara Plus – which is planned to be renamed Kauri, reflecting its status as a sustainable giant. In Gustro, Germany, the world’s largest plant for upgrading biogas uses Greenlane Totara Plus technology.

Powell says the patented technology is proven, modular and factory assembled, which results in quick and efficient installation on site. “Greenlane is well down the track in a standardisation project to ensure that upgrading systems have well defined specifications which reduces the need for capital investment and the demand for management and consulting services.”

Greenlane also designs compressors for the oil, gas and power generation sectors, together with a wide range of heat transfer and other industrial equipment which, Powell says, represents a growth opportunity for New Zealand fabricators and manufacturers.

“Greenlane has a very good reputation in the design and manufacture of compressors and heat exchangers, both of which are components of our biogas upgrading systems. With a re-focus on this sector, we anticipate our business increasing with our out-sourced manufacturing partners here in New Zealand which will be an exciting stimulant to local manufacturing.”

What is Biogas?

Biogas, which consists mainly of methane, can be produced when food waste from households, manure or agricultural crops is broken down by micro-organisms in digesters and wastewater treatment plants. Biogas can be used for heating, power generation or upgrading to natural gas quality. To upgrade biogas to natural gas or vehicle fuel quality, contaminants such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, need to be separated. Unlike gasoline, diesel, natural gas and many other fuels, upgraded biogas (biomethane) is a renewable energy source.

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