As electricity costs continue to rise, and the threat of climate change feels ever more acute, it’s natural to wonder if there might be a better way. What if there were a technology that could convert local biomass waste into an affordable and abundant source of electricity for industrial applications? And what if this technology could save customers nearly 20% of their power bill, all with no upfront cost?
Sound too good to be true? Thanks to Farm to Flame Energy, a start-up electricity generation system that recently participated in the Forestry Accelerator program, it’s not. In fact, Farm to Flame is preparing to install a number of biomass generators in both the US and Ghana. We caught up with Stefano Alva, CFO, to hear a bit more about the company’s plans.
Q: Can you explain how Farm to Flame works?
Stefano Alva: First, it’s important to understand that for industrial applications in particular, it’s critical to have access to power 24/7. Solar can’t really accomplish this without batteries, which are often prohibitively expensive. We target regions that have biomass waste available, which could be anything from woody debris, to agricultural waste, to paper and cardboard. Our system transforms the waste into a uniform powder, which is then combusted to create steam, which in turn produces electricity.
It’s also important to understand our financing model, which allows customers to have a system installed at no upfront cost. We take out the loan, then engage a service contract that allows them to pay for the system over time, as they would their utility bill. The big difference is that our system is producing renewable power from waste products, while saving them nearly 20% on their electricity, though of course the savings vary depending on regional utility costs.
Q: Can you talk a bit about your experience with the Forestry Accelerator?
SA: I have now participated in 11 accelerator programs, and I was so impressed with this one. It’s very focused on connecting industry to startups, and is generally very well connected to the forestry industry. The involvement of the industry and of local stakeholders is very unique, and for us, it actually led to a $4 million, 20 year contract. I couldn’t be more grateful to the program. The value they offered us as a company made a huge difference.
Q: What’s the future for Farm to Flame?
SA: For sure bigger projects, with higher capacity. Our goal is to install systems that can produce a megawatt of power, and to install roughly 40 systems in the next 5 years. We are also looking to get into areas that currently have no electricity service or infrastructure, and rely on diesel generators. We want to make a long term impact, not only through cost savings and providing renewable electricity, but also by improving the quality of people’s lives.