France: EUR 500 million a year for biogas in 2020

France is investing heavily in biogas for electricity, heating and distribution via its natural gas grid. Increased subsidy will kick-start the French biogas market, and new projects are already in the pipeline, says Xergi in France.

On 18 October, the French Industry and Energy Minister Eric Besson published new regulations and subsidies that are to ensure that biogas can be distributed via the French natural gas grid.

In 2011, the French government has published a number of new initiatives that ensure solid backing for biogas in France.

This backing includes increased support for production of biogas on the basis of waste from cities, industry and agriculture and the use of biogas for electricity production, heating and distribution via the natural gas grid.

According to a press release from the industry and energy minister, up to 2020, support for biogas in France will increase to a total of EUR 500 million a year.

New subsidy rates

The French targets are ambitious. By 2020, 270 million cubic metres of biogas are to be distributed via the natural gas grid. Electricity production based on biogas is to be increased fourfold and heating based on biogas is to be increased sevenfold by 2020.

This is to lead to an anticipated increase in the number of agricultural biogas plants from a total of approx. 40 plants at present to approx. 1000 biogas plants in 2020.

As something new, producers of biogas will receive a subsidy of between EUR 45 and 125 per MWh for biogas distributed via the natural gas grid.

The subsidy for electricity based on biogas has been increased by approx. 15-25% and currently constitutes between EUR 0.1119 and 0.1337 per kWh depending on plant size.

Supplements of up to EUR 0.04 per kWh are also available for high energy efficiency, and a supplement of up to EUR 0.026 per kWh for the treatment of domestic animal fertiliser is also being offered.

A public fund of EUR 1.2 billion has been dedicated to the extension of heating supply based on renewable energy in the period 2009-2013. The monies in this fund can be used to finance plants which are able to exploit the heating from biogas plants producing electricity.

Biogas in the natural gas grid

- The French government's initiative will lead to a significant enlargement of French biogas production, says Xergi's sales manager Guillaume Loir.

- We have worked on projects which have been waiting for a subsidy decision on the distribution of biogas via the natural gas grid, and these projects will now without a doubt be starting up. France has an extensive natural gas grid, and it is only natural to use the grid for the distribution of biogas, he says.

Standard concept for biogas in agriculture

Industry and Energy Minister Eric Besson expects that the new subsidies will result in a sharp rise in biogas plants in French agriculture.

Xergi is ready to take up the challenge as the company is currently launching a standard concept for agricultural biogas plants.

- We have designed a standard concept for a 500 kW biogas plant where the biogas reactor is built on site while the technical modules are built in advance using industrial principles. This means that we are able to ensure both high quality and short installation times which helps to ensure sensible pricing and high quality, says Guillaume Loir.

The standard concept is based on the experiences with biogas that Xergi has built up over 25 years. The concept has been tested at a Danish biogas testing facility, and the first standard plant has just been built in Sweden.

For further information please contact:

Xergi A/S, Managing Director Jørgen Ballermann, tel: +45 99 35 16 00,
Xergi SAS, Sales Manager Guillaume Loir, tel: +33 6 50 80 54 02,

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