Engie SA

10/14/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/14/2021 10:32

Biomethane: the asset of regions for a carbon-free economy

In an era where decarbonisation and the search for reliable and sustainable energy production solutions have taken the centre stage, ENGIE is betting more than ever on biomethane; a renewable energy with numerous advantages. As such, the Group has recently inaugurated three new methane units in France.

Le Mans (Sarthe) on 28 September, Fougères (Ille-et-Vilaine) two days later, and Chaumont (Haute-Marne) on 14 October. Over the recent weeks, ENGIE BiOZ - the Group's biomethane development entity in France - has inaugurated a number of new facilities dedicated to renewable gas production. Thanks to these methane units, biomethane can be produced and injected into the natural gas distribution network in order to supply thousands of households with energy and drastically limit CO2 emissions (see figures below).

>> Also read: Biomethane to support the energy transition: potential and cost in 2050 <<

Biomethane: an asset in decarbonisation

Our acceleration in the biomethane sector is evidently not a coincidence as we aim to produce 4 TWh production of this energy by 2030. Renewable gases perfectly complement electricity-based renewable energies and can be actively used to achieve a carbon-free energy mix. And that's only one of the many advantages of biomethane! Its production, which is both secure and flexible, allows it to be easily stored and used when needed. Additionally, the digestate from the fermentation process is used as a natural fertiliser, making for a truly virtuous circle.

Promoting a stable and local economy

This renewable gas firmly upholds the circular economy: producing the locally-sourced biomethane allows farmers to recover the waste from their production. Moreover, installing methane units as close as possible to their sites allows manufacturers to significantly reduce their environmental footprint. Finally, biomethane has a positive impact on the local economy: it is estimated that for each unit installed, three to four direct and non-relocatable jobs are created. All these elements contribute to the competitiveness of the regions!

Strong potential for biomethane development

There are a great deal of unexploited biomass sources in both Europe and France that can be used to produce biomethane. In its March 2020 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the global potential for biogas and biomethane production is "enormous and largely unexploited" and that it could reach "570 Mtoe for biogas and 730 Mtoe for biomethane" annually, compared to 35 Mtoe and 3.5 Mtoe respectively in 2018. A study recently carried out by ENGIE experts draws a similar conclusion: based on European databases that map crop types and their methanogenic potential, biogas production in 2050 could reach 1,700 TWhGCV in Europe, i.e. about 20% of the current gas demand!
Having taken part in the study, Pierre-Laurent Lucille, Chief Economist at ENGIE, indicates that "this local renewable energy represents a very real potential, and biomethane must become part of a global response towards the decarbonisation of our economies." Duly noted.

Figures for three new methane fermentation units:

  • Le Mans- Le Monné:
    • 26 GWh of annual production capacity, i.e. the consumption of around 2,300 households;
    • 6,000 tonnes of CO2 prevented annually.
  • Fougères- L'Aumaillerie:
    • 20 GWh of annual production capacity, i.e. the consumption of around 1,900 households;
    • 4,800 tonnes of CO2 prevented annually.
  • Chaumont:
    • 21 GWh of annual production capacity, i.e. the consumption of around 1,900 households and 6% of the Montargis commune;
    • 5,000 tonnes of CO2 prevented annually.
    • more than 5,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions prevented annually due to production.