renewable gas
Image by Gerald Krieseler from Pixabay

French multinational energy firm ENGIE has managed to produce renewable gas in a world-first using solid non-recyclable waste.

The milestone was reached at the utility’s GAYA semi-industrial Research & Development facility in Saint-Fons (Rhône), France.

Since its launch in 2010, the project has been supported by the French agency for ecological transition ADEME. As part of the project, some 11 organisations collaborated on research & development of new technologies.

Between 2012 and 2017, the project focused on the design, construction and commissioning of the GAYA platform. In 2018, the project saw the first injection of biomass into the gasifier and production of purified synthesis gas.

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In 2019, the first production of biomethane from forest biomass was completed.

The project is among the very first gasification and methanation demonstrators in France and in Europe.

Non-hazardous waste from economic activities is prepared, thus becoming solid recovered fuel according to the standards in force. This is then gasified at a very high temperature to produce synthesis gas with high calorific value. The synthesis gas, resulting from this first conversion, is then purified to transform it into biomethane using a catalytic methanation process.

The waste is mostly made up of waste wood, paper, cardboard and plastic.

The GAYA platform is in line with the targets set by the French law on Energy Transition for Green Growth, which aims for a 50% reduction in the quantity of waste going to landfill by 2025 compared with 2010 and a 30% reduction in fossil fuel consumption in 2030 compared with 2012, with a view to preserving the environment and strengthening France’s energy independence.

The platform contributes directly to ENGIE Group’s purpose, “to act to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy, through reduced energy consumption and more environmentally friendly solutions”.

The construction of the first industrial unit in Le Havre could begin in 2023. As of 2026, the unit will recycle 70,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year to be used to produce up to 150GWh of renewable gas, equivalent to the consumption of 670 urban buses.

In addition, the multi-energy process will allow the production of 45GWh of renewable heat to meet urban and industrial needs.

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Adeline Duterque, director of ENGIE Lab Crigen, said: “With GAYA, we have made major scientific advances in the development and industrialisation of renewable gas production sectors. The platform model contributes to the energy transition with the production of renewable gas and to the circular economy by making use of waste that until now was destined for landfill. The tests carried out using SRF show that we now know how to produce renewable gas from this type of waste.”