This is a fine example of the accelerated transition that is taking place in the world of energy. In October 2013, TotalEnergies stopped the commercial exploitation of its gas field in Lacq (Pyrénées-Atlantiques). Almost ten years later, he has just announced the commissioning of the largest biogas plant in France, located about ten kilometers away, in Mourenx.
The recovery of agricultural waste
BioBéarn will be supplied with corn scraps (leaves, pods, stalks, etc.) from a neighboring agricultural cooperative, Euralis, with which the group has signed a supply contract. This year, the site should inject 69 GWh of biogas into the network, ie the equivalent of the annual consumption of 14,000 inhabitants, thanks to the methanisation of 95,000 tonnes of agricultural waste.
It should gradually increase in power, to reach 160 GWh per year, by diversifying the entrants. TotalEnergies is talking about future partnerships to recover, in particular, residues from the agri-food industry and scrap from canteens. At cruising speed, BioBéarn should also produce 200,000 tonnes per year of digestate, a natural fertilizer that will be used on farms in the region, allowing a reduction of nearly 5,000 tonnes of chemical fertilizers, he argues.
This is the group’s eighth plant in France to inject biogas into the network. It also has ten others that produce green gas, but to transform it into electricity or heat. With BioBéarn, its annual production capacity now reaches 0.7 TWh.
TotalEnergies triples its production targets by 2030
With very significant resources, TotalEnergies has very high ambitions in the sector, after having acquired, at the end of 2021, Fonroche, the French number in biomethane. Last year, it drastically revised its objectives, going from 6 TWh of global production in 2030 to 20 TWh. Two-thirds would be located in Europe, with 4.5 TWh in France, where TotalEnergies expects “40 to 50 projects commissioned” by the end of the decade, according to Olivier Guerrini, director of the biogas activity. . The group could also offer its services to farmers, who own small installations.
In the coming weeks, TotalEnergies should complete the acquisition of 18 factories in Poland. In the United States, he already has a site in operation and is building a second one. A unit with an annual capacity of 200 GWh should also open at the end of the year in India.
Everything is going very fast. The potential for organic waste is considerable and demand is growing strongly, he explains. Logistics giants like DHL and Fedex, or e-commerce giants like Amazon, are converting their truck fleets to biomethane to reduce their carbon footprint. Shipowners are also getting involved. In Europe, manufacturers are seeking to secure their supply of biomethane.
In its renewable energy development plan, the European Commission is counting on 385 TWh of biogas in 2030, requiring some 83 billion euros of investment to achieve this.
The French sector is in working order
In France, the biomethane sector is also showing exponential growth, even if the construction of large facilities can give rise to opposition, as in Côte-d’Or, against the Danish Nature Energy project.
At the end of 2022, 514 injection sites were identified in France. At the end of 2021, there were only 365, and 214 a year earlier. The annual production capacity has already reached 7 TWh, more than that of a 900 MW nuclear reactor, it is argued at GRDF.
This is the only renewable energy that exceeds the objectives set out in the multiannual energy programming law (PPE), recalls Jean-Marc Leroy, the president of France Gaz (formerly French Gas Association) . It was counting on 6 TWh, at the end of 2023.
For the time being, biomethane represents barely 2% of gas consumption. But the sector estimates that it can reach 20% in 2030, i.e. twice as much as the official scenario established so far. This represented as much as Russian gas imports into France before the Ukrainian crisis.
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