From Agri-e to Arda Energy: ETN’s first cluster project prepares for market entry

After 18 months of testing, former oil engineers validate success of 100% renewable concept

Karianne Skjæveland
Communication Manager
April 15, 2024

If you've been following Energy Transition Norway for a while, you've probably heard about Agri-e. The company, which uses biogas to produce green hydrogen, electricity, heat, and CO2, is a frequent topic on our agenda. As ETN has been deeply involved in fostering this project, we're thrilled to announce that our cluster "baby" is ready to step out into the broader world.

Armed with a wealth of data from 1.5 years of testing at Risavika Hydrogen Hub, and with strategic partnerships with several ETN cluster members, the company is ready for the market and is rebranding itself as Arda Energy.

- We're finally ready for the market. The design for the first commercial plant with a capacity of 1-2 tons of hydrogen per day, is already underway, says Egil Vigdel, CEO of Arda Energy.

Biogas is the new black

According to Vigdel, biogas is becoming increasingly important in the energy transition.

The entrepreneurs see major players like TotalEnergies, E-on, Equinor, and Shell starting to move in this direction – and Equinor and Shell have been project partners in Arda Energy from the start.

- The global potential for biogas is 100 times greater than Norwegian hydropower. And while Europe aims for 360 TWh by 2030, India alone has plans for building 5,000 new biogas plants.

Arda Energy is currently discussing with potential partners and customers to realize its initial market launches in Europe and India, where the initial focus is on biogas producers and consumers of hydrogen and CO2.

CCO Kjell Husabø, CEO Egil Vigdel og CTO Trym E. Eide i Arda Energy

First mover in Risavika Hydrogen Hub

Arda Energy was the first company to operate in the test center in Risavika for the development of new hydrogen and CO2 value chains, which is also an ETN cluster project.

The engineers started by building a digital twin to simulate the entire process in order to reduce risk.

- We then began building the industrial pilot in January 2022, and after six months, we started running tests on the various parts of the process plant with fully-fledged control and safety systems, says Egil Vigdel.

After 18 months of testing, the CEO would not be surprised if his engineering team know the different components of the process plant better than the various suppliers.

- We have basically tested and tried everything. And we have lost power, water, air, and gas; we have even been struck by lightning during testing. Our safety system has handled everything as it should, shutting down the plant and restarted it.

Thanks to rigorous logging during these tests, Arda Energy now have a huge database of information that will be very valuable when scaling up. This logging system will be used to further develop the solution, placing Arda Energy in a favorable position when competing for market share.

Valinor as co-owner

Arda Energy’s journey hasn't only been marked by technical challenges, however.

The company experienced significant challenges in raising capital, too, and the Arda Energy was on the verge of bankruptcy 3 months before testing was completed. Then, Valinor finally jumped on board as co-owner.

The investment company owner, Lars Helge Helvig, knew Arda Energy in his capacity of being a board member of ETN.

Kjell Husabø, CCO in Arda Energy, is happy to develop their new identity as a project development company in addition to being a turnkey supplier, as this is something Valinor has extensive experience with through other companies that they own:

- We do find the industry to be a bit skeptical. There are very few people who know that biogas can be used to produce hydrogen and CO2. We’re talking about maybe 2 - 4 plants in operation in  in the world today, Husabø says.

To help clients navigate this new and unknown territory, they have chosen to remove the threshold of having clients invest in their plant. Arda Energy will buy the biogas and handle the further process.

Arda means interconnectedness

The decision to rebrand as Arda Energy reflects the company's ethos of responsible resource utilization and global outreach. The name change is inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's mythical universe, where Arda symbolizes the interconnectedness of all living beings and the Earth itself.

- We’re very happy to see Arda Energy reaching this milestone, as we’ve been working for years to help them succeed, says CEO in Energy Transition Norway, Egil Aanestad.

ETN has been central in establishing the partnerships with Equinor, Shell, Rosenberg, Norled and Aarbakke Innovasjon, as well as securing project funding from ENOVA.

- As the very first idea to be taken up as a cluster project when ETN was established in 2018, Arda Energy has been instrumental in shaping the way we do collaborative industry projects to speed up the energy transition.

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