Stéphane Le Foll, the French Minister of Agriculture, Agrifoods and Forests and government spokesman, was in Auch today in the Gers department of southwest France, alongside Antoine Frérot, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veolia, to open the Greater Auch methanization unit and biogas production plant.
Biogaz du Grand Auch is the biggest methanization unit in southwest France in terms of its capacity to handle and recover organic waste. It is an excellent illustration of the potential for increasing methanization and the indispensable role of agriculture in this domain in France. Agricultural methanization is one of the country’s future possibilities for producing green energy. The technique helps meet France’s goals for the energy transition through the local production and consumption of renewable energy from biomass.
Located in the heart of a farming area that is turned mainly toward the agrifoods sector, Biogaz du Grand Auch is a regional methanization unit that produces electricity and heat from organic waste from agriculture, the agrifoods industry, local authorities and collectors. The methanization unit, which is operated by SEDE Environnement, a Veolia subsidiary specializing in the treatment and recovery of organic waste, can treat up to 40,000 metric tons of organic waste a year and produce 3.7 million cubic meters of biogas. The gas is then used to produce 1.1 MW of electricity and the same amount of heat. This is enough electricity to meet the annual consumption needs of 4,000 people, equivalent to about 16% of the population of the town of Auch. The heat produced goes to Sud-Ouest Aliment, a company located near the site, for use in its animal feed plant. Lastly, the residue from the digestion process (known as “digestate”) serves to produce organic soil improvers that can be used by local farmers.
Developed by the company Biogaz du Grand Auch and built by Naskeo Environnement, the site is operated by Auch Energies Vertes, which has awarded the supply and operation of the entire methanization process to Veolia subsidiary SEDE Environnement, and operation of the biogas recovery process to Verdesis. Biogaz du Grand Auch makes a contribution to meeting the area’s economic, environmental and social challenges, including the creation of five new jobs, and has the support of the town of Auch and its surrounding area, of the Gers Departmental Council and of the Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council. Biogaz du Grand Auch is included in France’s Installation Classified for the Protection of the Environment (ICPE) system and was certified ISO 14001 in June 2014. It was financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund and also received the support of ADEME, the French environment and energy agency.
“The Biogaz du Grand Auch project is a perfect example of the convergence between the environmental services activities and energy efficiency. It calls on Veolia’s various competencies in water, waste and energy in an exemplary manner. The project is also a demonstration of the capacity of French know-how to carry out an ambitious energy transition policy to the benefit of the regions, as soon as all the different players get together and work in a close partnership,” said Antoine Frérot, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veolia.
Veolia is the global leader in optimized resource management. With over 200,000 employees* worldwide, the company designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions that contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.
In 2013, Veolia supplied 94 million people with drinking water and 62 million people with wastewater service, produced 86 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 38 million metric tons of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia