Biogas in France has been progressing steadily year-on-year in line with the evolving regulatory framework, an adaptive and increasing offer (including the arrival of new homegrown technological and service solutions) and a growing sensibility and interest to utilise the still under-exploited bioresources suitable for anaerobic digestion.
Click on the Bioénergie International "Biogas Atlas 2019".
 

Biogas is a combustible gas composed primarily (60%) of methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2) derived from the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. This process is called anaerobic digestion.

Biogas can be produced using digesters or be directly captured in landfill sites. All organic matter can be converted into biogas with varying concentrations of methane gas. Liquid manure, agricultural waste and energy crops can be fed into biogas plants in farms or in collective units that treat different types of waste associated with a significant proportion of manure.

Sewage effluents can be digested in sewage treatment plants. Green and municipal solid wastes can also be converted into biogas in solid waste digester units.

Anaerobic digestion allows farmers, specifically dairy farmers, to substitute their chemical fertilizers with the nutritional by product of anaerobic digestion, thereby in parallel contributing to resolving the problem of storage and waste treatment.

Biogas can be used for:

  1. Heat: Combustion of gas in a boiler for distribution via a heating network
  2. co-generation of electricity and heat (combined heat and power - CHP): biogas is fed into a heat and power cogeneration unit. Electricity generated can first be used for captive needs and/or sold to the electricity utility at the regulated feed-in tariff. The heat from CHP unit is recovered and can be utilized for heating homes or for the production of hot water for a broad range of different applications.
  3. Gas network: the injection of biomethane (cleaned biogas to meet the natural gas standard of >97% methane content) into the natural gas grid or decentralized gas grids.
  4. Fuel : biomethane for vehicles.

 

Anaerobic digestion enjoys a substantial economical and industrial potential in France, especially in the agricultural sector, thanks a large substrate market, and a still modest number of units in comparison of the potential.

Figures by project type

There are many different kinds of anaerobic digestion projects, because of the range of wastes, which can feed the anaerobic digestion process. Agricultural biogas units can be split in two categories:
- centralised territorial projects, bringing together several actors, mixing animal manure with wastes from industries and local authorities.
- projects led by farmers, utilising mainly animal waste, supplemented with external waste, crops residues and energy crops.
Mid 2018, there were 305 agricultural biogas units, and 43 territorial projects running.

But biogas isn't restricted to the agricultural sector, and mid 2018, we counted as well: 150 biogas units in landfills, 15 in domestic waste facilities, 73 in Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) and 104 in water treatment units for industries or agro-industries. The Wastewater treatment sector in particular is promising: half the potential (about 1TWh/year) remains to be developed...

source: ATEE 2018, RISPO 2016

Figures by biogas uses

At the end of june 2019, 708 biogas units were connected to the electric grid, for a total capacity of 470 MW. 266 projects were pending, for a cumulative capacity of 77 MW.

At the end of march 2019, the biomethane injection capacity was around 1.36 TWh/year, produced by 88 units. The governmental objective of the sector being 6 TWh/year in 2023, and 14 to 22 TWh/year in 2028. The cumulated pending projects amount to 6.15 TWh/year.

source: Ministry of Environment 2019, Club Biogaz ATEE 2019, PPE 2019

The Pays de la Loire and Brittany regions are the first French regions for animal rearing (they account for half of the French cattle and pigs), with a strong presence of agro-industries (one third of the French agro-industrial sector in terms of employees and turnover). Therefore, they have naturally a strong potential for anaerobic digestion. Available substrates represent about 50 million tonnes of animal manure, close to 2 million tonnes of agro-industrial waste and 2 million tonnes for waste from local authorities.
sources: SINOE, AGRESTE 2016

In order to oversee the development of anaerobic digestion in these two regions, a programme was created in 2007: the "Plan Biogaz", financed by ADEME and both regions, and animated by AILE association.


Brittany and Pays de la Loire are the most dynamic regions in terms of biogas projects. More than 136 agricultural and territorial units were in operation in the area at the beginning of 2019.
source: AILE 2019