French biomass group Albioma has started initial works on its first two biogas plants as part of an investment drive to benefit from recent regulation changes in France.
The company’s expertise lies in the electricity generation from sugarcane waste in France's overseas territories. In 2013 it has launched two new biogas plants in Poitiers, France and moreover, plans to open additional three or four this year, of which one will bring in purefied methane into the French gas network.
Biogas, which comprises of methane, is the product of anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas is produced from a number of sources such as farming, agribusiness, wastewater sludge and landfills, mainly by environmental services firms like Veolia and Suez Environment.
"The biogas market in France is rising from the ground now. In a few years we'll see who the main players are," added Petry.
Albioma is planning on investing 200 million euros into its future pipeline of 22 methanisation plants in the coming years. The plants will use manure, agriculture waste and slaughterhouse waste, and will be constructed in France's western and north-western agricultural regions. It has been estimated that once operational the first two plants will deliver 2 and 0.5 megawatts respectively.
The company’s chief excecutive Jacques Petry stated that the French biogas market was increasingly benefiting from two regulatory changes; firstly, the obligation for gas giant GDF to accept purefied biomethane for injection in its networks and secondly tighter environmental laws that oblige farmers to treat manure.
Albioma has already installed power capacity of 700 megawatt (which equated to power produced by a small nuclear plant) of which 627 MW biomass, 70 MW solar and 3 MW biogas. By 2017, Albioma's biogas capacity should grow more than tenfold to around 40 MW, a company slide showed.
Around 50% of Albioma's capacity is located in French overseas territories such as the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe. The firm has built another 195 MW in Mauritius and 60 MW in Brazil, where it just bought a new 60 MW sugarcane-based biomass plant for 43 million euros.
According to Mr Petry, the energy firm plans to invest in a new Brazilian biomass plant every 12 to 18 months.
Albioma’s long-term plans include an investment of 1 billion euros over the next 10 years, of which 400 million will be in French overseas territories, 400 million in Brasil and 200 million in biogas plants in France.
Photo Source: Albioma