Teréga: combining energies to benefit biomethane

Teréga: combining energies to benefit biomethane

The development of a biomethane sector is one of the foundations of a sustainable
and virtuous energy transition. But it needs ambition, expertise and determination to
come together. Teréga is the catalyst that can make that happen. Explanations and
personal accounts.

The emergence of a biomethane sector in France is of huge importance, both to the environment and to the economy. As a sustainable and renewable energy source it reduces
dependence on fossil fuels and limits greenhouse gas emissions. This sector presents considerable economic prospects for the farming world, a way for it to recycle its organic
waste, contributing to a sustainable and virtuous way of farming. As a real asset in territorial
development, methanisation also benefits local authorities, not only providing a way for them
to ensure their energy independence but also helping develop a circular economy and create

Biomethane: Teréga: getting involved with project leaders

The development of a methanisation unit is a complex project. That complexity means that
rigorous support is required at all stages of a project to connect up a methanisation unit. This
is the role played by Clément Laulhé who, having spent ten years inspecting and maintaining
Teréga’s networks, now works as projects manager at Teréga’s Infrastructure Projects
Department/ As such, he works with project owners and has already helped start up
production at two biomethane injection stations: Prometer at Montbazens in the Aveyron and AgriEnergie at Auros in the Gironde. “One of my jobs is to do all I can to help Teréga’s
strategic vision – to develop a biomethane sector in the territories – become a reality,
accelerating our country’s decarbonisation”, says Clément Laulhé, who describes his role as
being that of a project facilitator. He explains that “developing a biomethane infrastructure is
a demanding plan. The project owner needs long-term support, both for the technical and
the regulatory aspects. We make sure that’s what they get.” Feasibility studies, budget
assessments, drafting specifications, seeking out partners and skilled service providers,
launching invitations to tender, with Teréga ensuring end-to-end project management
alongside the project owners.

Essential local collaboration

Energy syndicates work in the territories with local authorities, and play an important role in
developing the biomethane sector. These energy syndicates are historic structures, whose
initial purpose was to manage electricity networks across local communities. Their skill sets
have grown over time, and now extend across all energy issues within the territories. Today,
every department relies on its own energy syndicate. In Lot-et-Garonne it is Territoire
d'Énergie (TE47), created in 1953, which acts as a catalyst for biomethane projects. “For ten
years or so, at the instigation of local elected representatives and the director of TE47, we’ve
been getting involved in the renewable energy side of things: eco renovation of communal
buildings, photovoltaic cell installations, electric charging points etc. Our actions are very
wide ranging; the only thing we’re not involved in is wind power, as there’s limited potential in our department,”
explains Rauna Barth, Biogas development officer at Territoire d'Energie

Lot-et-Garonne (TE47). In this department, Biogas started being discussed in 2014 following
a study conducted at regional level which revealed the potential for biogas production in the
territory. “Another study confirmed our biogas potential and revealed that 90% of it is in the
hands of the farmers. The line we’ve taken is to encourage agricultural methanisation as
much as possible, and do what’s required to create real dynamism in the territory around
that sector, involving farmers, the general public and their elected representatives. That’s
what I do. I act as a sort of biogas ambassador to farmers,”
Rauna Barth tells us.

A programme aimed at farmers, going by the name of Co’Meth 47 has been established.
Created in 2018, it encourages farmers to group together and bring forward joint
biomethanisation projects. At the end of 2023, 6 projects were being supported, one of which
has been in operation since September, with a second since January 2024. TE47 acts as
technical coordinator for these agricultural methanisation collectives, helping put groups of
farmers together and financing certain technical and economic feasibility studies for the
project. “Our collaboration with Teréga is all about proximity. While TE47 is to some extent
the catalyst for farmers’ group projects, Teréga catalyses the catalyst, bringing technical
support and offering help and advice on a daily basis, which makes it considerably easier to
produce and inject biomethane into its networks over a given area. Teréga’s commitment to
developing biogas is essential if we are to actively take the projects forward, because we all
have the same interest at heart: to encourage the development of this renewable energy.”

That conviction is shared by Eric Goumondie, Teréga’s officer for regional institutional
relations. “Teréga’s energy transition policy can only work in collaboration and partnership
with the territories. Teréga is involved alongside the local authorities to uncover and highlight
all their renewable gas production potential.”
For the Lot-et-Garonne department alone it has
been established that local resources are sufficient to set up 50 methanisers.

To date, 6 are in the process of being developed. “This is just the beginning of the story in the far South- West,” Eric Goumondie points out. “Methanisation is a mature technology with ecosystems to develop. Biomethane production should double by 2030 in France. The majority of the ecosystems are yet to be built, but that cannot be done without the local authorities, especially when it comes to improving their acceptability to society through positive spin- offs.”

Project owners: taking up the challenge of acceptability…

When it comes to the reality of how difficult it is to get a project up and running, this is
something that Yannick Duffau, a farmer, mayor of Brannens since 2020 and Chairman of
AgriEnergie SAS in Auros (Gironde) has experienced first hand. “Getting elected is not an
end in itself. You have to act, resolve the problems that come along and identify the best
solutions. The elected official’s job is to help their territory advance and develop. That’s what
I’ve tried to do by developing a methanisation unit to make local farms as sustainable as
possible. They get passed on from one generation to the next, and I cannot resign myself to
watching them steadily die out and disappear. I saw methanisation as an opportunity to be
grasped at the economic level, of course, but also to bring farmers together and unite them
around a shared project.”

In 2015, SIPHEM carried out a feasibility study of methane production potential which
revealed the possibility of developing between 4 and 6 methanisers. With his strong local
commitment, Yannick Duffau quickly put himself forward as a candidate to lead the project.
On 13 December 2016, he brought 14 farmers from the territory together around SIPHEM to
explain to them what methanisation entailed. “In April 2017 we first launched the project as
an association (for practical reasons),and we commissioned a feasibility study part-financed
by the Gironde department, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region etc.”
Next they needed to find
land on which to set up the methanisation unit, trying to get the local population onboard
alongside the farmers. “Once we’d identified the land, we changed the organisation’s status
to a simplified joint-stock company, Agri-énergies SAS. The venture was well and truly
launched in April 2019.”
Now established in the commune of Auros in Gironde, AgriEnergie
brings together 9 farmers who have found ways to diversify their activities. It has an injection
capacity of 120 Nm³ CH₄/h.

This project was supported by a large number of actors: Teréga, SIPHEM, SICTOM Sud
Gironde (domestic waste collection syndicate), the Gironde Department, industry: Langon
distribution (Leclerc), Sainfruit and the Distillery of Saint Martin de Sescas, but also the
ADAR (Agricultural and Rural Development Association) of Mazères, and three communities
of municipalities: Réolais en Sud Gironde, Sud Gironde, Bazadais. Farmers, a local
authority, industrial concerns, but members of the public too (1100 in all) were all able to
invest a total of €500,000 through a participatory platform. “Our idea was involve the entire
value chain around a single objective: to move the local biomethane sector forward,”
explains Yannick Duffau. He concludes: “The collaboration with Teréga has been a precious
thing, particularly because of its help and support with connecting up our methanisation unit.
Practical, technical and strategic advice… without this assistance everything would have
been much harder. What I take forward from this project is the enriching relationship we
managed to create and maintain with all the project stakeholders, and particularly Teréga.
Together we have acted, and together we have learnt a great deal.”