The biogas sector is booming in France thanks in particular to the appearance of new outlets (injection, biofuel) and new processes (cogeneration, pyrogasification, power-to-gas). In 2020, the production of renewable gas almost doubled, reaching 2.2TWh at the end of the year, against 1.2TWh at the end of 2019. However, biogas still represents only 0.5% of the country’s total gas consumption.
What is the current status of the biogas sector in France?
In France, “biogas” is currently produced mainly through the methanisation of organic waste. This process is used to produce electricity but can also be injected into gas networks, in which case it is called “biomethane” or “bioGNV” when used as a fuel for vehicles.
At the end of 2020, there were nearly 828 installations producing electricity from biogas. Methanisation installations make up more than three quarters of the fleet and account for 43% of the total capacity.
Methanisation is the most mature means of biogas production in France, but other production processes are being developed.
New production methods:
Thanks to technological advances, as well as support for innovation in this field, which holds the promise of a more ecological future, new production processes are being developed.
One of these is cogeneration, a process that consists of producing heat and electricity from biogas. This production model is based on an engine driving an alternator which then generates electricity. The efficiency is estimated at 35%. There are then two different engines for cogeneration:
– The gas engine: running only on biogas, with a high investment and maintenance cost.
– The dual fuel engine: this engine works by injecting fuel (10% of the energy that will be consumed), to allow the air and the biogas to ignite. This engine is more interesting in terms of maintenance and investment costs. It allows for a higher electricity yield.
We can also see a new biogas production process with pyrolysis. Pyrolysis and gasification are thermal (heat) treatments of relatively dry carbonaceous materials (biomass/waste), proven at high temperatures (between 250 and 1500°C). These production processes convert the carbonaceous material into gas or coal, which can then be used to form energy compounds such as electricity. Currently, this process has been developed industrially in geographical areas where biomass resources are abundant and cheap (mainly Latin America and China).
A promising future:
Despite disruptions and delays related to the health crisis in the deployment of new projects, the future of the biogas sector in France remains promising.
Indeed, the number of biogas projects increased considerably in 2020.
At the end of the year, there were nearly 1,150 projects with a total production capacity close to 26 TWh/year, i.e. 8 times the current capacity
However, the high production costs are still an obstacle to the development of the sector.
The challenge of reducing production costs:
The costs related to the production of biomethane are about 4 times higher than those of natural gas production (about 23€/MWh).
Today, the economic competitiveness of biomethane compared to natural gas is a more than ambitious challenge, due to the cost of production of the installations implemented, but also of their investment and maintenance. The yield is still lower than that of natural gas.
Therefore a great deal of research is being carried out on this subject in order to make this type of energy more competitive and to move towards greener production and more eco-responsible consumption.
Meet the SURFEO team at the 10th edition of the EXPOBIOGAZ trade fair, which will be held on 1 and 2 September 2021, at the Parc des Expositions in Metz Métropole, France. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss more about the different solutions for the production and valorisation of renewable gas in Europe and North America.
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