What are the future prospects of biomethane?

What are the future prospects of biomethane?

the biomethane is a renewable gas obtained from the fermentation of organic materials. With a composition very close to that of natural gas, it can be used in the same way as natural gas. This limits the use of fossil fuels.

Would it be a reliable solution to greening our gas network by reducing our dependence on imports?

Biomethane is a natural gas from various organic materials (organic waste, agricultural residues, sludge, etc.). Obtained from their fermentation in the absence of oxygen. This process, called anaerobic digestion, it allows the development of bacteria which they subsequently transform into biogas.

This can be used raw or transformed to obtain a colorless and flammable gas: biomethane. The gas produced by anaerobic digestion is mainly used to produce electricity and heat. However, after undergoing a purification process, it can also be fed into gas networks.

Or how to exploit the famous maxim of the chemist Lavoisier: nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed

What is the difference between biomethane and biogas ? Biomethane comes from the purification of biogas. This purification aims to bring the biogas as close as possible to natural gas, so that it can be fed into the gas network or used as a fuel.

Biomethane appears to be a reliable alternative to fossil fuels. Its use allows to limit the greenhouse gas emissions. It also has the advantage of recovering organic waste.

In 2011, the first biomethane injection site in gas networks emerged in France. It has come a long way since then. France has really become the first country in Europe in terms of the number of biomethane production units. The country ranks in the top 5 in Europe with Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark in terms of the volume of biomethane produced.

The energy transition law for green growth of 17 August 2015, the objective is also to increase the share of renewable energy to 32% of final energy consumption of energy by 2030. This naturally encourages the development of this sector.

With a slight drawback, however. Biomethane remains more expensive than other renewable energies in terms of production costs. In 2018, producing 1 MWh of biomethane cost 95 euros, compared to 50-70 euros for the energy produced by a wind turbine.

But biomethane can be produced continuously: it is not an intermittent energy. Can also be storedI don’t like thesolar power or wind energy.

The surge in fossil fuel prices and the war in Ukraine were an opportunity to see our addiction natural gas imports. In 2021, for example, around 45% of gas imports of the European Union came from Russia. The current economic and geopolitical situation encourages us to turn to sovereign alternatives, but also more virtuous ones. Biomethane makes it possible to address these challenges. It is produced locally and is not subject to the volatility of financial markets.

The 2015 Energy Transition Law, the 2016 DPI had already set itself the task of achieving by 2023 from 237 to 300 megawatts (MW) of electrical power from methanation. At the end of the first half of 2020, this electrical power reached 220 MW. In recent years, many regions of France have seen the proliferation of biomethane production units. First, Île de France, Hauts-de-France, Brittany and Grand-Est.

But the targets for the production and injection of biomethane into the gas networks have been revised downwards. So the last one Multi-year energy planning (PPE) increases the share of renewable gas in total gas consumption in France to 7% by 2030. Although the 2015 Energy Transition Law simultaneously provided for a 10% target.

As of December 31, 2020, France had 1,075 biogas production units. 20% of them (214 units) use it in the form of biomethane injected into the gas networks, a number almost doubled in a year.

Between 2018 and 2019 there was a 79% increase in biomethane injections, representing 2.2 billion kW. What guarantees a bright future for this low-carbon gas anyway?

What future for biomethane in France?

According to the anaerobic digestion roadmap ofADEMEby 2030 between 500 and 1,400 sites will inject biomethane into the gas network. This should represent 16% of biomethane in the distribution network. By 2050, 56% of the gas circulating in the network will be green (GRDF expects a higher percentage, around 73%).

The Climate and resilience law of 2021 have also implemented the Biogas production certificates. This is a device which consists in imposing a supply obligation on gas suppliers green gas in the state. Suppliers can fulfill this obligation by producing biogas to inject into a natural gas network. They can also acquire certificates from biogas producers.

If it continues, the momentum of recent years could place France at the top of Europe in terms of biomethane production, by the end of 2023. For what results? They are today of two orders.

First, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And this, with an average reduction of 200 tons of CO2 per gigawatt hour (GWh) injected. By way of comparison, 1 tonne of CO2 corresponds to 54 days of gas heating, or 5181 km by car.

Secondly, the return to energy autonomy. Today, the vast majority of the gas we consume is imported. Biomethane provides access to more great independence. By continuing our momentum, we will be able to ensure that 2/3 of gas consumption in France comes from biomethane and other green gases. Keep on…

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