Privilege Finance support clients from before funding is agreed, during the building phase and right through to when an energy from waste project is ready to be refinanced. Here, our account management team Andrew Rice and Anthony Hughes share what to expect during the later stages of the funding journey, when a plant is ready to start transitioning to become fully operational.
Meeting your finance account manager
Five to six months before a new energy from waste project is due to ‘go live’, around the time when certification is signed off, the customer is introduced to their Privilege account manager. The introduction usually involves a tour of the plant so we can familiarise ourselves with the project, build an understanding of what is working well, and what the challenges might be. It is our chance to start bringing in knowledge from other projects, discussing our thoughts and ideas with the customer.
Energy from waste finance reviews
Once a new plant is live, for an AD plant this means it is connected to the grid and injecting gas or electricity, we aim to meet with clients each month for a progress review. We take a holistic approach to these meetings to understand the site’s strengths and issues and help correlate this to the accounts.
We understand that our customers are generally most passionate about the operations of the plant, and we find that discussing the operational perspective first and then linking to the financial focus is the best way to fully understand what is going on.
For us, the monthly reviews are about relationship building. It is essential that our customers understand that we are there to support them with any issues. At Privilege we want all the sites to be a success and to produce as much green gas as possible so while we are vigilant in our processes, we are also flexible if alternative approaches are needed.
Solving problems for underperforming AD plants
When something has not gone to plan, resulting in plant underperformance, our aim is to help resolve this as soon as possible.
In our monthly meetings with customers we often review any downtime, for example, when the plant stopped digesting feedstock to produce biogas. We ask whether the downtime was scheduled, perhaps for equipment maintenance, or unexpected. If it was not planned, we look at what happened and explore ways to prevent a future recurrence of the problem.
We also offer insight from other projects to help solve problems. For example, one of our AD plants recently identified that the salaries of those operating the plant was a large proportion of total running costs. We offered our thoughts based on shift patterns which we have seen working well at other plants, and the customer was able to adjust the shift pattern to improve this while maintaining plant performance.
Community stakeholders and AD
Just as it is important for us to have open communication and a trusting relationship with the customer, it is equally important for the plant team to have a trusting relationship with community stakeholders.
At one plant we were part of a meeting with the energy minister at the time, Claire Perry, to help communicate what the plant was doing and how its activities would contribute towards the development of a more sustainable circular economy. Following from this, the plant has continued to hold community days where people come on-site to learn about the anaerobic digestion process and what it achieves, which helps break down barriers and reduces ‘nimbyism’ among the local community.
Refinancing an AD plant
Once a Privilege funded AD plant is built, fully operational and has resolved the inevitable teething problems that come with a newly operating plant, we support our customers with finding the right refinancing deal.
We help by assessing the monthly performance data and initially discussing with the customer whether the plant is ready for refinancing.
Tips for AD and energy from waste finance customers
- Make the most of monthly review sessions. This is the chance to discuss the plant’s strengths and weaknesses, so both customer and funder are fully informed
- Remember operational aspects are linked with financial aspects. We understand that operational teething problems will occur and knowing about them will help us correlate what is happening with the accounts
- Share any concerns with us as soon as possible. It is our job to look for solutions to enable the plant to meet performance targets
Managing an AD plant is no easy task and the above steps can help make the plant as successful as possible. If you have a project in mind, please get in touch with the team and we can discuss our process with you in more detail.