Also known as Green Gas, biomethane is produced from organic matter of animal or plant origin. With properties similar to those of natural gas, it can be injected into existing supply networks for use as a fuel. So-called second-generation biomethane is produced by applying a gasification process to ligneous biomass, such as wood or straw.

Second-generation - or 2G-biomethane is produced from lignocellulosic biomass, such as wood or straw. This technology does not use the fermentation process needed to process traditional biomass, such as household waste, but uses a different process called methanation.

As part of developing this promising new industry in Europe, ENGIE is contributing to the GAYA project, in which eleven partners with complementary expertise are working with support from ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) to demonstrate the technical, economic, environmental and social feasibility of a second-generation biomethane production industry.

Gaya: an ambitious R&D project unique in Europe

The ambition of the GAYA project is to develop a new industry to produce 2G biomethane, which can then be marketed as a fuel delivered via the existing natural gas supply network.

Located centrally in the area known as 'Chemical Valley' near Lyon, the GAYA R&D facility is the only one of its kind in Europe. Commissioned in 2015, it is staffed by around 30 engineers and technicians. Fully equipped with demonstrators covering every stage in the process - from sourcing to gasification, methanation, syngas treatment and recovery of biomethane as a fuel, this facility will make it possible to demonstrate the feasibility of the project as a whole.

Around 5,000 new jobs1 are likely to be created in France between 2040 and 2050 as a result of growth in the second-generation biomethane market. Developing local production facilities to limit transportation emissions and making local use of the energy produced by the process are together expected to avoid emissions equivalent to between 3 and 4 million of CO2 every year.

1 Based on the ADEME Évaluation des emplois dans la filière biocombustibles (Evaluation of jobs in the biofuels industry) report published in April 2007.

2nd generation biomethane : a business of the future ?