We met the big brains behind Cambrian Innovation back in 2014 at the Craft Brewers Conference. We specifically sat down with Dr. Matthew Silver, Cambrian CEO and holder of three advanced degrees from MIT — an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and Technology, M.S. in Technology and Policy and a PhD in Engineering Systems. We assume he also has an Iron Man suit.
Silver and his crew at Cambrian Innovation sell the awesomely innovative EcoVolt system, which employs a proprietary bioelectric technology to treat brewing wastewater while generating biogas energy, transforming waste into an asset. We reported Bear Republic Brewing Co. was the first brewery to purchase the EcoVolt system back in early 2014; we recently discussed how Lagunitas Brewing Co. was using the EcoVolt to cut its water footprint by 40 percent earlier this year.
That’s all very cool, but an amazing and high-tech wastewater treatment and clean energy generation system already sounds cost prohibitive, right?
Maybe not: Cambrian Innovation just launched of a pioneering financing vehicle backed by a $30M fund. Under the new financing mechanism, called a water-energy purchase agreement (WEPA), growing industrial businesses (like a craft brewery) will be able enjoy the benefits of onsite wastewater treatment and clean energy generation by simply paying an affordable monthly fee based on usage. The first-of-its-kind financing model is poised to drive widespread adoption of distributed clean water and energy solutions that can reshape today’s industrial infrastructure.
“Breweries face increasing wastewater disposal costs and rising environmental regulations nationally,” said Silver. “To combat costs, large breweries are implementing onsite wastewater treatment. Systems can be expensive, difficult to operate and distract brewers from their core business: brewing. Now, with the water-energy purchase agreement, growing breweries can cut wastewater disposal costs and tap hidden energy and water resources in their waste streams, all without expending capital or overcommitting operating personnel. Brewers can also meet regulations and boost operations’ sustainability. Cambrian Innovation will deploy and operate our cutting-edge EcoVolt product suite at breweries, extracting clean water and energy as a service and charging only for the water and energy the brewery actually gets.”
Let’s talk about the EcoVolt product suite. It’s a set of modular solutions that extract clean energy and water from wastewater with “advanced biotechnology.” The containerized EcoVolt products are installed onsite at food and beverage companies, seamlessly fitting into and scaling with business operations. Through the WEPA, Cambrian will finance, install and operate EcoVolt systems on the customer’s behalf, and sell back clean energy and clean water on a take-or-pay model. Customers convert what was previously an environmental liability into a source of on-going financial and environmental benefit, with zero capital outlay and no operating risk.
The WEPA concept is based on the successful power purchase agreement (PPA) deployed in the solar industry during the past decade. The PPA is widely credited with unlocking massive growth in solar initiatives at the consumer level. The WEPA allows customers to transfer the risk of treatment and increasingly strict wastewater compliance to Cambrian, while hedging against rising water costs, and enjoying financial and environmental benefits.
The WEPA is available exclusively from Cambrian Water, the service-based water division of Cambrian Innovation, starting immediately.