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Biogas: players on track to consolidate the industry

On the occasion of the press conference held today, biogas industry professionals presented the findings of the study conducted this year on the state of the sector. They highlighted the obstacles encountered and the actions already implemented to remove them.

They also issued a reminder of the opportunities biogas represents in terms of the energy transition across the country: production of a renewable resource, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, development of green mobility, optimised waste management and supply of a digestate that can replace mineral fertilisers. They also emphasised the advantages of developing this form of energy for the future of the farming industry, in particular livestock breeding, and for creating local jobs.

In February, E-CUBE Strategy Consultants were commissioned to perform an in-depth analysis of the context in which this fledgling industry operates, by different industry players grouped together in a Steering Committee. The mission conferred on the firm made it possible to measure the difficulties experienced by certain businesses in concrete terms and identify the main causes. The aim was to subsequently allow the professionals to prioritise the actions to be conducted to enhance the development of the sector.

Concerning the technical aspects, the study notes in particular that the facilities are unable to achieve the expected level of production due to a lack of equipment fully adapted for their inputs, and to the unreliability of certain materials, local electricity network and supplies complementary to agricultural organic matter. When combined with other factors, such as the decline in revenue from fees for waste and heat recovery, and the under-estimation of operating and maintenance charges, these findings largely explain why the profitability of the operations was below expectations. In addition, on the regulatory level, the long and complex procedures hinder project developments.

Most of these findings illustrate the fact that the recently emerged French industry is in the learning phase. Indeed, this learning phase was inevitable, as the mix of input products used to supply the biogas plant differs from other countries, as well as necessary, to better to fine tune the technical and economic parameters. Nonetheless, professionals have observed improvements in the adaptation of the materials and a better assessment of operating costs.

From this status report, which highlights the work that needs to be done to accompany the effective lift-off of the biogas industry in France, the players on the Steering Committee will continue to work together to consolidate the industry within the National Biogas committee, set up by Ségolène Royal in March. While the development of this renewable energy source requires that the players active in the value chain share experience and a quality approach, public backing remains decisive today, in particular in terms of mechanisms to support, simplify and homogenise network integration and R&D procedures.