French biomass group has grand plans for biogas plants

Albioma, a French biomass group specialising in generating electricity from sugarcane waste in France's overseas territories, has launched its first two biogas plants to capitalise on new regulations in the country.

The group opened two biogas plants in the region – with capacities of 2 and 0.5MW respectively - around Poitiers in 2013 and has plans to open three or four more this year.

Its pipeline of 22 methanisation plants, in which it will invest about €200 million, will use manure, agriculture waste and slaughterhouse waste and will be built in agricultural regions in the west and northwest of France.

France has a relatively small biogas capacity in the agricultural sector, with a combined total of 30MW, compared to a country like Germany's 3,000MW.

The country's biogas sector is set to grow with new regulations for gas giant GDF to accept purefied biomethane for injection in its networks and tighter environmental laws forcing farmers to treat manure.

Albioma has installed power capacity of 700MW, consisting of 627MW biomass, 70MW solar and 3MW biogas.

More than half of this capacity is based in French overseas territories like the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe.

The group recently bought a 60MW sugarcane-based biomass plant in Brazil for €43 million and has another 195MW in Mauritius.

A company official has been quoted as saying Albioma wants to invest in one new Brazilian biomass plant every 12 to 18 months.

The company confirmed plans last year for an investment drive of around €1 billion over the next decade, allocating €400 million in French overseas territories, €400 million in Brazil and €200 million in biogas plants in France.

By 2017, Albioma's biogas capacity should grow to around 40MW, according to the company.

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