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ENGIE produces renewable gas from non-recyclable waste in ‘world-first’ project

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ENGIE has produced renewable gas from non-recyclable waste in a ‘world-first’ project.

Located in the heart of the ‘Chemical Valley’ in Saint-Fons, France, the GAYA semi-industrial research and development (R&D) platform took a ‘historic step forward’ in the production of renewable gas on 17 November.

Supported by French agency for ecological transition ADEME and launched in 2010, the GAYA platform was created on the initiative of 11 partners from the industrial, institutional, and academic worlds in France and Europe, which was coordinated by ENGIE. It aims to approve innovative technology choices and applications for biomethane and renewable gas.

The GAYA platform is in line with 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 2050 compared with 2010 and a 30% reduction in fossil fuel consumption in 2030 compared with 2012.

A year after producing biomethane from forest biomass, the GAYA platform achieved a ‘world-first’ and produced its first cubic metres of renewable gas from solid recovered fuel (SRF). In the absence of dedicated recycling channels, this type of fuel is formed of waste wood, paper, cardboard, and plastic resulting from economic activities.

ENGIE’s demonstrator has validated the integrated operation of the entire chain of innovative technologies under industrial conditions. This configuration maximises the production of renewable gas, according to the firm.

“With GAYA, we have made major scientific advances in the development and industrialisation of renewable gas production sectors,” said Adeline Duterque, director of ENGIE Lab Crigen, the corporate group’s R&D centre.

“The platform model contributes to the energy transition with the production of renewable gas and 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.”

Based on work already undertaken, ENGIE plans to build its first industrial unit in Le Havre, France, starting in 2023, known as the Salamandre project. From 2026, this will allow 70,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year to be used to produce up to 150 GWh of renewable gas, equivalent to the amount used by 670 buses.

The multi-energy process will allow production of 45 GWh of renewable heat to meet urban and industrial needs. As an alternative to landfill, which is due to be phased out, the GAYA chain is positioned as the channel of reference for making us of non-recyclable waste to produce a storable renewable gas, which can substitute natural gas and has multiple end uses, such as sustainable mobility, industry, and the tertiary sector.