Renewable gases: the great opportunity for energy self-sufficiency

Mar 17, 2022

Renewable gases: the great opportunity for energy self-sufficiency

The Renewable Energies Syndicate (SER) and gas grid managers – GRDF, GRTgaz, SPEGNN and Teréga – publish the 7th edition of the renewable gases overview. In France, renewable gases could make up 20% of gas consumption by 2030. Potential exists in the sector. Nevertheless, the current economic and regulatory framework is holding back growth in this promising sector, which will be essential for France’s self-sufficiency in energy and its achievement of carbon neutrality targets. Even so, more than 1000 projects are currently in development, and could soon become a reality. For this ambition to find its place in the next Long Term Energy Schedule (PPE), the SER and gas operators are calling for the immediate implementation of proactive measures to accelerate the boom in renewable gases.

Methanisation: a trend worthy of fast expansion

Development of the biomethane sector continued in 2021, with more than 150 new methanisation sites being brought online. That development is part of a desire to achieve sustainability via a number of initiatives: labelling, progress contracts, training, dialogue with stakeholders. By the end of last year, installed injection capacity across the 365 methanisation sites was above the target of 6 TWh biomethane injected, set by the PPE for 2023. These great results are encouraging, but must not be allowed to mask the slow-down in new projects since the change in the economic climate that started at the end of 2020. The base target of 14 TWh in 2028 is achievable in 2023, if simple and proactive measures are brought in quickly.

A set of essential and ambitious measures for a change of scale

The commissioning of more mature projects, particularly by cutting down the time needed to obtain administrative authorisations, and taking rising inflation and the costs of raw materials into account, are simple levers to release the potential of renewable gases. To keep the drive going, the introduction of new support mechanisms – without any impact on the State budget – is needed more than ever before. A decree covering biogas production certificates, imposing a requirement on suppliers to incorporate a minimum level of green gas into their portfolios, should be published by the end of March. A mechanism covering calls for tender for plants of more than 25 GWh/year is also needed to strengthen the current trend, while we wait for the full effects of biogas production certificates to be felt.

An economic and regulatory framework which is needed to support the rise in hydrogen and other renewable gases.

Measures on the production and use of hydrogen (H2), announced as part of the France Relance and France 2030 recovery plans, support France’s hydrogen development ambitions. While the order relating to H2, published in February 2021, constitutes a significant step forward, the precise mechanisms for the certification and traceability of that renewable energy have yet to be defined to get the drive fully under way. Calls for projects to support renewable and low-carbon H2 production by electrolysis are bound to increase in number throughout France. Alongside that, the pyro-gasification for injection and the hydrothermal gasification sectors require support mechanisms suited to those particular technologies.