It's already a reality for some uses, and there’s no doubt that in the future it will become a reality for all of us, including industry: 100% green natural gas produced locally with zero environmental impact! It's an energy supply channel that ENGIE is actively involved in developing as part of transforming our energy system by 2050. The energy transition is a revolution that cannot happen without gas!
Renewable gas is produced essentially by converting fermentable organic matter from a diversity of sources, including agriculture, industry, catering industry waste, local authority waste and wastewater treatment plant sludge: the result is biogas. It can then be purified to achieve the same level of quality as natural gas: we then refer to it as biomethane.
Biomethane is already used to generate heat and electricity for industrial facilities and open heating networks via co-generation. It can also be injected directly into the natural gas supply network. In France, this has been happening since 2011, and by June 2017 there were 35 injection sites, compared with 17 at the end of 2015.
ENGIE has been committed to the development of the biomethane industry for many years. The Group is particularly active in the development of biogas projects, and offers green gas supply solutions to companies and local authorities.
For domestic users, ENGIE has recently launched its new Mon Gaz Vert (My Green Gas) offer in France which comes with a guarantee to customers that the equivalent of 10% of the gas they consume will be from renewable sources*. They can even choose the methanation facility that will produce their green gas from a choice of three partner production facilities!
Biomethane is already in use today as a vehicle fuel in the form of bioVNG: in Barcelona, 36% of the city’s buses already run on biomethane, while the figure in Bologna is 30%, and in Stockholm 25%.
Already competitive compared with other energy sources, natural gas will become even more so in the future, thanks to the ultimate maturity of the technologies used to produce green gas and the lower costs of an existing infrastructure network. So competitive, in fact, that experts predict that we could achieve 100% renewable gas from 2050 onwards.
Added to which, new emerging technologies are already technically operational producing so-called second-generation biomethane or 2G biomethane from dry biomass (wood, straw, etc.), and third-generation biomass from cultured microalgae.
ENGIE is a powerful stakeholder in the development of these new industries. The Group is also invested in the GAYA project, whose 11 partners (which include ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) are trialling the technical, economic, environmental and social feasibility of a second-generation biomethane production industry. Located near the city of Lyon, the GAYA platform was commissioned in 2015, and is equipped with demonstrators for every stage of the process, from supply to exploitation.
Excess electricity generated by wind parks and solar generating plants can be converted to hydrogen. Known as Power-to-Gas, this technology makes it possible to store surplus energy in natural gas networks for use during peaks of consumption (like those experienced in urban heating systems) or new applications entirely, such as carbon-free transportation solutions.
ENGIE and GRDF are also invested in a Power-to-Gas experiment near Dunkerque in northern France: the GRHYD project. The hydrogen produced using surplus wind energy is injected into the natural gas network to fuel a heating network and produce green fuel known as Hythane® for use in a local bus fleet.
* ENGIE buys the equivalent of 10% of the total quantity of natural gas consumed by the customer in the form of renewable gas produced by the facility chosen by the customer, and provides the corresponding Guarantees of Origin. A Guarantee of Origin certifies that the biomethane has been injected into the gas network from a specific biomethane production facility.