We take stock of biomethane

The energy issue and our dependence on Russian gas are in question, especially since the war in Ukraine. Orne is a leader in biomethane production that supplies the public gas distribution network. What are its advantages and what are its critics saying? We take stock.

The dependence on gas, especially on Russia, since the war in Ukraine raises questions and raises questions about possible solutions in France to reduce them. That anaerobic fermentation, the biogas production process that produces biomethane, a 100% renewable gas, is developing in France. However, unlike first-generation liquid biofuels, this gas is very rarely used in France.

Normandy develops this activity and methanation projects: 22 locations feed in biomethane today in public gas distribution networks the equivalent of the consumption of 60,000 householdsor 2.4% of regional consumption. to by the end of this year, 40 locations will be feeding in the equivalent of the consumption of 100,000 households ie 4.3% of regional consumption.

In the region, the Orne department is a leader in biogas production 11 biogas units on its territory. At the end of 2021, the proportion of green gas in the networks in the department will be 10%. And by the end of 2022, between 20% and 30% of the department’s gas consumption will be green, GRDF estimates. For a goal of gas self-sufficiency for the department by 2030. Orne then becomes the first self-sufficient gas department in France.

to Expression, GRDF’s goal is to provide France with 5,000 methanation units and make the country 100% self-sufficient in gas.

There are several ways to achieve this self-sufficiency in the Orne: that of the Argentan biogas plant, composed of units from Fontenai-sur-Orne (methacance) and Argentant (methane energy). supply all 3,650 households with a natural gas connection in summer and half in winter. what doesSilvering a community that is 100% gas autonomous for part of the year.

And the project to build a reversing station that will make it possible connect several biogas plants to Mortagne-au-Perche. Commissioning is planned before summer 2023. Six methanizers will generate the energy needed to power 12,300 homes.

Anaerobic digestion is the process of producing biogas, which is then converted into biomethane, a 100% renewable gas. The biogas production process (methanation) is as follows: organic waste are placed in a cylindrical and hermetic tank called “Stove” From where “methanizer’, in which they are exposed to the effects of microorganisms (bacteria) in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic fermentation) and heated to temperatures between 38 and 40 degrees, which produces biogas.

Once the biogas is produced there are two different ways to use it:

  • To be there combined heat and power : The gas drives an engine that powers a generator that produces heat and electricity.
  • is injection : The gas stripped of its CO2 becomes biomethane and is fed into the public gas distribution network.

Biomethane can be used for heating, cooking, water heating, industrial purposes or even as a fuel.

There are two types of usable waste for anaerobic digestion:

  • This can be liquid waste water such as cattle sewage, municipal or industrial waste water or even sewage sludge.
  • It can also be organic solid waste: agricultural waste (solid plant substrates, animal manure), industrial waste (processing waste from the plant and animal industry) or even municipal waste (newspaper, food waste, textiles, waste materials, packaging, by-products of municipal sanitation).

To acquireA biogas plant is a high investment, of several million euros. The support of a project lasts two to three years: from the beginning of the reflection to the opening of the biogas valves.

This gas production is a way to recycle and recycle waste, but regulations allow part of the crop, up to 15%, to be injected into the methaniser.

Anaerobic digestion also allows for the recovery of livestock effluent. In fact, the device produces an organic and odorless agricultural fertilizer called digest (Residual material after anaerobic digestion) used to fertilize the soil by feeding the plants with a fertilizer of natural origin, helping to reduce the purchase and consumption of synthetic fertilizers.

Anaerobic digestion also has its critics. “The excesses of anaerobic digestion are precisely groups of off-site farmers who are remote from the project to be built, where this involves material transport and therefore significant energy requirements for gas production. The ERR (Energy Rate of Return ) is 1 : We need so much energy for implementation to produce the amount of energy that we recover in the end”, believes Dominique Delanoë from the Masked Hedgehog Association, which opposes methanation projects. For him, the large-scale expansion of anaerobic fermentation is not a solution.

If we wanted to offset Russian gas, we would need at least 5,000 methanizers installed. This will represent 5, 6 departments in France dedicated exclusively to culture to supply the methanizers.

Dominique Delanoë, President of the Association of Masked Hedgehogs

France 3 Normandy

Interview with an opponent of anaerobic digestion

©France Televisions

At the end of February, opponents of the anaerobic digestion project in Mortagne-au-Perche – already mentioned in the article – met environmental groups to call for a public consultation on the installation of this station. “We call for a global environmental impact study that takes into account both this infrastructure project and the methanizers that will be added. Because this project will produce units that did not exist today,” explains one of the opponents.

Finally in a press release reported by our colleagues from L’Orne Hebdo the Farmers’ Union of Orne, calls for a moratorium on methanation. The union is concerned and wants to warn against the excesses of this anaerobic digestion activity by, on the one hand, questioning the role of agriculture: “Should tomorrow’s agriculture be energy or food?” and on the other hand by showing drifts that the manufacturing process could cause “The rural economy.” Because, according to the farmers’ association, methanation of the species “industrial” contrary to the requirements of the farmers.

While the agricultural themes would be ecologically oriented towards an extensification of production in order to reduce the ecological footprint, the installation of these industrial-leaning models does not tolerate a decrease in the crop productivity required for their operation in order to remain within the legislative framework. They will therefore tend to intensify or expand it to ensure their autonomy.

Peasant Union of Orne


A consequence that would directly affect the settlement of young farmers on small structures creates a “Competition for Land”.

Anaerobic digestion, a process for generating renewable gas, therefore has its opponents, who, among other things, point to an energy solution that is not necessarily green.

To find out more, this Wednesday April 27, 2022, France 3 Normandie dedicates its 19/20 issue to biogas and biofuelsby the biogas company “Beaulieu Méthanergie” based in Argentan. Continued from 6:53 p.m

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