Alkane Energy Plans to Open Biogas Plants, Chief Says

Alkane Energy Plc, the U.K.’s biggest producer of electricity from coal-mine methane, is seeking to open two to three power plants a year that run on biogas after 2011 to branch further into new fuels.

The company’s goal is to produce 20 million pounds ($31 million) in annual sales from biogas plants, Chief Executive Officer Neil O’Brien said today in a telephone interview.

The Edwinstowe, England-based company has sought approval for a power plant using municipal waste in Derbyshire and seeks partners for agricultural biogas projects using corn or sugar beets, he said.

Alkane hopes to profit as the U.K. aims to produce 15 percent of its power needs from alternative sources by 2020, as it faces declining electricity production from North Sea oil and gas drilling and from decades-old nuclear power plants.

A U.K. government goal to develop 1,000 biogas projects may not be realistic, though “even if you’re looking at 200 to 300 sites, that’s going to be a very intensive building program,” O’Brien said.

The company’s shares fell 1.6 percent to 15 pence at the 4:30 p.m. close in London. The stock has dropped 17 percent so far this year, giving it a market value of 13.9 million pounds.

Alkane is considering acquisitions in the coal-mine methane business, yet nothing is imminent, O’Brien said.

Alkane’s first-half net income for the six months ended June 30 fell 34 percent to 783,000 pounds as the period last year included income from the sale of its minority stake in Pro2 Anlagentechnik GmbH.

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