Biogas: Our People – Jacob Ewers
September 26, 2023
Continuing on with our biogas blog series, we’re excited to learn more about Jacob Ewers (Project Manager).
Describe your role on the Biogas team:
Every day on the Biogas team is different! However, there are a few duties that are fairly consistent, such as leading multiple team meetings daily to discuss everything from warranty/operations support on plants/projects we have already built, key deliverable progress with client teams, engineering deliverables, and field engineering support of our internal engineering team. I also manage purchase orders and finalize action items of the team to drive progress on key project tasks while also balancing key stakeholder visibility. There are lots of moving parts and fast-paced projects that keep things interesting!
What has been one of your proudest accomplishments on the Biogas team?
The project that has been the most rewarding for me so far is my work on the Del Rio Dairy project that we finished commissioning earlier this year. This was a project I worked on from the very first day I started at Montrose Environmental, and it was a very time-intensive and fun project. I was able to work on every step of the process with the engineering team, and it was amazing to see the project go from an empty field next to a dairy farm to a full digester and biogas upgrading plant 18 months later.
Being able to be involved in the details of every phase of the project, from engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning, and more, was a new experience for me. It was so rewarding when we got our first gas into the pipeline earlier this year. I am very proud to have worked on this project, which is now treating 113,000 gallons of manure daily and generating enough renewable natural gas to power over 11,000 households annually!
How have you seen the Biogas team successfully adapt to challenges?
Of all the challenges we faced, I think the two biggest hurdles were overcoming supply chain disruptions/delays and managing coordination between all the key stakeholders and involved parties on the Del Rio biogas project. The supply chain disruptions and delays were prevalent around the world and across industries during the main portion of this project in 2021 and 2022 as most manufacturing companies were still recovering from the aftereffects of the global pandemic.
The main way our team helped to mitigate this issue was through strong communication with both the key vendors and our client and by optimizing construction and commissioning to reduce schedule impacts as much as possible. We held weekly meetings with all key vendors so that we could have the most up-to-date information on the current status of deliveries to keep both our internal team and the client up to date. When we ran into delays, we would adjust our construction and commissioning schedules so that we would focus on the installation and start-up of the equipment that had been received already so the impact to the overall project schedule was minimal. This project required a lot of hard work to coordinate, but it certainly paid off in the end.
The other key hurdle that I mentioned was making sure all stakeholders and involved parties were on the same page. These biogas projects involve quite a few different entities–clients, investors, local electrical utility, the local natural gas pipeline operator, laboratories for sampling, etc.–and the project can only be successful if all the key people know their role and understand the current status at the site. Our team at Montrose focused on making sure we communicated throughout the project so that no one was surprised or out of the loop as we moved toward getting gas into the pipeline. Overall, I think the larger project team did a great job of working through the challenges associated with this project which obviously contributed to the overall success!
What inspired you to pursue a career in biogas?
I have always wanted to get involved in renewable energy and/or water treatment for my career because I believe that protecting the environment is extremely important, and I want to be a part of the solution as we work toward a more sustainable future for the planet. After graduating with my engineering degree, I wasn’t really sure what opportunities would be available in these fields, but I was looking forward to finding out. I did not know anything about renewable natural gas/biogas before I started the interview/recruitment process with Montrose, but as soon as I was introduced to the concept, I was hooked. I thought it was so cool that we could help solve an existing problem–methane emissions related to agriculture waste–and turn it into a useful fuel source.
As someone who has grown up and still lives in Kansas, I know how critical agriculture is to the world, and finding a way to make the process more sustainable to help combat our climate challenges is an awesome opportunity that I do not take for granted. In addition to the fulfillment from the work itself, I’m extremely lucky to be a part of a great team of talented and kind team members at Montrose. Despite the challenges associated with this work, this team is always fun to work with, and we always find a way to get to a solution.
What are you looking forward to on the Biogas team?
This is a very exciting time for our Biogas team! We have successfully completed a couple of major EPC projects at this time, and we have now successfully completed multiple 30% design efforts as well. I believe we will continue to expand the number of projects we can work through at one time now that we have a proven successful process. I’m looking forward to engineering, installing, and commissioning many more plants.
I think my role contributes to the successful future of this group by continuing to drive key tasks within our team and maintaining great communication with our client teams to ensure that everyone is on the same page as we provide solutions for these complex RNG projects!
Biogas Project Manager
Jacob Ewers brings over 5 years of engineering experience to the Biogas team, where he joined as a project manager in 2021. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas State University and is an Engineer in Training (EIT) in Kansas and Texas.