Biogas growth in France

By | 2016-03-18

Biogas growth in France is exponential! It is throughout the year 2015 that France took action experimenting injection of refined biogas, or biomethane, within the gas networks operated by GRTGaz and GRDF, the French natural gas distributors. The infatuation for biogas is among the energy transition to renewable energy, and the proportion of the gas industry it represents in France is growing steadily since at least 2012. The biogas industry in France is expected to generate income of 920 million euros in 2020, which is more than twice its revenue in 2015 that amounted to 390 million euros.

While several biogas plants had already been slowly implemented, it is only since 2012 that such infrastructures get built over the France territory at a rate of at least 50 projects per year. By the end of 2015, the total number of functional facilities then accounted to 421, while in terms of biomethane injection sites in the biogas network, their number went from 6 to 17, increased by nearly 300 percent. GRDF, in particular, is aimed to operate up to 100 of these injection sites by 2018. It follows that the results of the development of the French sector of biogas are outstanding so far considering that only for 2015 it was able to generate energy equivalent to the consumption of 20,000 homes, or more than a thousand trucks or buses.

The potential of this renewable energy source being well acknowledged until now, France intends to keep on stimulating its growth, and more especially to increase the pace. Moreover, this growth is justified by demand considering it is expected that the biogas consumption will double by 2018 while it has increased by 10 percent in 2015. Thus, France has set a goal to have 1,000 anaerobic digestion units implemented, to be achieved by 2020. In addition, France has introduced legislation stipulating that by 2030, biogas should represent 10 percent of the gas injected into the gas grid. It is then easy to understand why the General Director of GRDF, Mr. Edouard Sauvage, argues that biomethane represents the future of natural gas.

It seems obvious that part of the solution to optimize the transition towards renewable energy is through legislation. Indeed, it is not by giving free rein to the energy market that the fossil will give way to the renewable, and we need policy makers to endorse their responsibilities and get involved in terms of sustainability for our future. It is through legislation to promote renewable energy that awareness will be raised among the population in order to become more proactive; because it will realize that there are environmentally friendly sustainable alternatives that work. As with any transition, the return on investment will be somewhat delayed, but the state of our environment in the long term is what ultimately justifies the necessary investments today in order to push renewable energy.

It is encouraging to see that biogas undergoes rapid growth in France and that the country sets targets in this sense and that biogas is gaining more and more importance in the French gas market. The energy transition is under way, and nothing indicates it will slow down or fade. In fact, the magnitude of this energy transition is such that Mr. Sauvage openly talks of a revolution in energy, even comparing it to the stupendous growth of telecommunications in the twentieth century. However, it remains to see which countries will follow suit, hoping that it will be sooner than too late.

By Simon Lefebvre | 2016-03-18

Sources :, Batiactu, Romandie, GreenUnivers (image)