The company was founded in 2009 to concentrate on renewable energy sources.
ERigene designs, develops and markets an innovative concept of “on farm” biogas plants whose technical and economic characteristics are closer to agricultural equipment than to power plants.
The conclusions of the “Grenelle de l’Environnement” conference in 2007, the 2009-2013 Farming Energy Performance Plan, and rising public concerns regarding the environmental impact of farming activities put pressure on the agricultural world. Ways are sought to improve the agronomic and economic performance while adopting a more sustainable approach, as reflected in the freshly coined expression “Ecologically Intensive Agriculture”.
Biogas has been identified as a way for the future and the farming world is incited by governments to explore all tracks, for energy efficiency and to secure agricultural economies facing extremely volatile costs and incomes.
ERibox is a major step towards the emergence of an industrial agricultural biogas industry in France.
Renewable Energies are an opportunity for agriculture
Olivier Lespinard, the founder of ERigene has been convinced for many years that renewable energies represent a major opportunity for agriculture in France, resulting in economic, social, agronomic, ecological benefits.
However, the vast majority of the 170 000 French breeding farms do not have access to biogas production: farm sizes do not allow to directly import technologies that were developed elsewhere in Europe, mostly in Germany, where biogas production is far more developed.
The dominant “liquid phase” biogas processes is mainly aimed at liquid effluents whereas cattle farms in France produce mostly solid wastes.
To enable the development of a biogas network in France, there had to be found a way to equip thousands of small-to-middle size farms (50 to 150 LUs).
A simple idea … which took a true scientific, technological and industrial approach
To generalize the practice of biogas on farms, accessible equipment had to be designed which could easily integrate in daily work on the farm. The challenge was to provide equipment that is easy to use, efficient, ergonomic and industrially produced at the lowest costs.
Technologically, the solution must adapt to any specific farm (size, type of farming, seasonality, types of inputs …),
Ergonomically, it must be easy to use, without requiring additional technical or human resources.
Economically, the cost should be bearable and provide a return on investment within a reasonable time.
A network of technology, agricultural and industrial partnerships
In 2008 Olivier Lespinard laid the foundations for a research and development project with a group of partners (Génie des Procédés Industriels de l’Université de Technologie de Compiègne, l’Institut Polytechnique, LaSalle Beauvais and the Chambre d’Agriculture de l’Oise).
The project, called MEXA (French acronym for “farm scale methane production”) gets support from OSEO and the Picardy Region. In addition, ERigene relies on local businesses, especially when it comes to manufacturing the digesters.
For two years, the partners have shared their time between laboratory research and development with life-size testing on pilot farms.
— to scientifically and technically determine the optimal conditions for the “solid phase biogas”, to put together an innovative technology, simple and robust, which can integrate in farms’ practices and requires standards farm equipments,
— to ensure a continuous development of products and services,
— and finally to establish the conditions for industrial mass production units to enable their widespread deployment.
ERibox results from this collaborative effort to include biogas production in everyday agricultural techniques, focusing on the optimization of the overall added value to the farm: Solid roots for a French agricultural biogas sector?