Boosting the competitiveness of the French biomethane sector

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Through the Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV), France has set a target to achieve 10% renewable gas in its total gas consumption by 2030. The French biomethane industry, which is currently in development, will contribute to achieving this objective. With this in mind, key players representing the sector (GRDF, GRTgaz, the ATEE Biogas Club and the French Renewable Energy Trade Association (SER, Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables) have joined forces to draw up an industrial roadmap to strengthen the competitiveness of the French biomethane sector.

Modeling three typical units with injection capacities ranging from 100 to 300 Nm3/h estimates total production costs for biomethane ranging from 94 to 122 €/MWh, excluding subsidies. These units, which are likely to be replicated on a large scale in the coming years, require support to become economically viable and enable the emergence of this sector.

The identification of specific enablers available to the industry and the quantification of their impact on the economic models of the units makes it possible to project a cost of biomethane production between 65 and 85 €/MWh in the medium term (2025-2030), i.e. a decrease of around 30% in the cost of production compared to the current estimate. A significant part of these gains in competitiveness can be seized in the short term with a potential gain of around 20% by 2020-2025, through the sharing of best practices and the development of a French industrial sector.

This study of technical and economic models, combined with the contributions of stakeholders in the sector, has identified ten major themes to which the sector must commit to strengthen its competitiveness:

  • Maximising the methanogenic power of feedstock

  • Limiting the cost of feedstock

  • Maximising the use of biogas

  • Reinforcing standardisation and mutualisation

  • Developing operator training and optimising maintenance

  • Limit connection and injection station costs

  • Benefiting from economies of scale related to the size of units

  • Extending plant lifetime

  • Optimising costs and financing structure

  • Limiting exogenous factors inducing a potential increase in costs

Moreover, the biomethane sector generates multiple positive externalities. These benefits include energy (production of non-variable and storable energy, reinforcement of energy independence, etc.), environmental (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of groundwater pollution, creation of circular economy dynamics in rural areas, etc.) and economic (job creation, reduction of bio-waste treatment costs, etc.). Compared to a baseline scenario without biomethane, these positive externalities correspond to additional benefits for the community through different channels (the community, energy consumers, biowaste producers and farmers). The cost of producing biomethane must be considered with these additional benefit in mind, which can represent between €55 and €85 for each megawatt-hour of energy produced.


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