Several guides exist to help farmers and corporations develop a biogas generation project. Many of them are very well documented in terms of available technologies (i.e.: anaerobic digestion), processes to put in place and funding. However, too often an important element is missing. Over the last 30 years, thousands of biogas projects have been launched and an important element emerges from this experience: odor management. Successful projects have included odors as a fundamental element of success. Most of other projects were unsuccessful or had to face significant protests from residents.
For the last 10 years, continuous real-time odor monitoring solutions have been available and are now widely used. The OdoWatch Platform is the leader and has helped many projects manage this crucial element of success. In addition, Odotech's team of experts is also involved in supporting those projects at all levels. Without integrating the impact of odor nuisances during the design, construction and operation phases, these projects will most likely run across problems with the community. This results in delays in launching (administrative procedures, permits, etc.) or more painfully in their abandonment.
Several projects with a positive environmental impact, designed with the best technologies and financial packages interesting for all parties, had to close because odor nuisances were underestimated. Several projects are still in operation but had to react quickly with major after-launch investments because they had neglected their potential odor impact. The profitability of these projects was postponed by many years and, naturally, this was not expected from investors. What is unfortunate is that very often it is only a bad perception from the residents who are afraid of being potentially impacted. This is often enough for biogas projects to fail even before they really begin operations.
For other projects with genuine odor problems impacting their community, continuous monitoring is fundamental to act quickly and efficiently. It is always better to invest where the improvements will be the most significant.
A communication plan at each stage of the project and the implementation of innovative solutions such as OdoWatch to monitor atmospheric emissions once the site is in operation is a guarantee of success. All stakeholders, and in particular residents who can block these projects, can only see that everything is put in place so that actions can be taken quickly if problems arise. In addition, the OdoWatch Platform enables optimization of operational processes and thus ensures a return on investment for operators.
By combining qualitative information (observations by employees, complaints from residents, logbook, etc.) as well as quantitative data (gas sensors, electronic nose, etc.) with real-time meteorological data and atmospheric dispersion (AERMOD, CALPUFF), the OdoWatch Platform allows continuous monitoring of potential environment impacts. Warned at all times (email, smartphone, etc.), operators can be proactive when a problem arises. They can take the necessary decisions (i.e.: mitigation actions) and communicate transparently with their neighbors and, if required, the authorities on the improvements made.