A contract has been awarded for the construction of a biomethane plant at Sourdun in northern France following the government’s adoption of a feed-in tariff for biogas in December 2016.

In a second phase, the raw biogas from the plant can be refined to at least 97 per cent methane through a process known as pressure swing adsorption (PSA) for use in the local supply network.

It is hoped that the new biogas plant, being planned by German company Schmack Biogas for local company SARL Létang Biométhane, will produce 250 normal cubic metres per hour of raw biogas in the first phase of development. However, a second designed-in development phase could double this output.

As the biggest country in the EU, with a larger area for agriculture than Germany, France has enormous potential for biogas generation. The new regulation and, in particular, a subsidy which is being extended by up to five years, is likely to bring strong market growth. It is estimated that the arable farming business in the region could produce approximately 25 million kilowatt hours (or 25GWh) of biomethane as a natural gas equivalent from vegetable waste and catch crops each year, according to Schmack Biogas, part of the Viessmann Group. This corresponds approximately to supplying around 1,500 households per year with renewable heating.

Photo: Grégory Brandel