The recovery of biogenic CO2 obtained from methanation units is an important issue for the development of the biomethane sector. It also affects its ability to compete with natural gas. BioCOhas many advantages: it is local, pure, and produced consistently all year round. In addition, its use in the vicinity of methanation sites makes it economically competitive and supports a local, circular economy.

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Context

With its “Vert l’Avenir” enterprise project, GRDF makes the greening of gas and carbon neutrality an integral part of its strategy. We plan to make it the spearhead of our long-term strategy. In particular, we would do this by promoting the production of biomethane.

Biomethane is a 100% renewable and highly decarbonated gas produced from biomass. This biomass comes from agriculture, waste from the agri-food industry, catering, and household waste, or even sludge from sewage treatment plants. 

The biogas produced by a methanation unit is purified to form biomethane as one of its products. It has the same properties as natural gas (and therefore the same uses). Apart from this, the offgas (purification emission) consists mainly of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is currently recovered very little, if at all.

Note that this CO2 is called ‘biogenic’, meaning that it is neutral with respect to climate change, because it is captured as the plant grows.

In accordance with its mission (to support and promote biomethane injection), GRDF wants to make biomethane more competitive. That is why we are seriously looking into the recovery of methanation coproducts.

This call for projects is for biomethane producers, industrial CO2 capture operators, industrial gas transporters, and users of CO2 or aggregators operating in the Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine regions or their immediate vicinity who wish to recover biogenic CO2 obtained from methanation.

Facts & figures

A typical 10-GWh/year methanation site (i.e. producing around 920,000 Nm3/year of biomethane) produces from 920 to 1400 tCO2/year (biogenic). This means that, for all the French methanation units injecting biomethane at the beginning of 2021 (4100 GWh/year of production capacity, i.e. approximately 370,000,000 Nm3/year of biomethane produced), the recoverable potential is approximately 400 to 600 ktCO2. This source corresponds to half of the current French demand for CO2 (around 1000 ktCO2 in 2017). With the rapid growth of the biomethane sector in France, this CO2 capture potential will far exceed national demand in the coming years (if the demand does not change).

The CO2 from methanation sites offers several advantages:

  • Local biogenic CO2: a significant proportion of the cost of CO2 is due to transporting it from where it is produced to where it is used. The proliferation of methanation sites all over the country makes short-circuit supply possible, which reduces this cost. This is the feature that reinforces the local and circular economy.
  • High-quality CO2: the fraction of COfrom the offgas is generally more than 98%. Moreover, the offgas from agricultural methanation contains few, if any, pollutant compounds. This makes it possible (with additional purification) to obtain very pure CO2. This limits its capture cost and encourages a diversity of possible uses.
  • A secure supply: the production of CO2 by a methanation unit remains stable over time (summer and winter). This provides security with regard to the supply and the price.

Selection criteria

Overall quality of the response (MANDATORY)GRDF calls for projects are intended to be simple and efficient. Nevertheless, the quality of presentation of the information and the application, as well as the completeness of the file, will be evaluated.
Experience of the participants in the relevant link of the CO2 value chain (MANDATORY)Show that the candidate and partners have experience and expertise in the activity they wish to pursue in the context of a project on the recovery of CO2 from methanation. The “skills” and “safety” aspects are essential.
Scope of the projects (MANDATORY)This call for projects is aimed at projects proposed by biomethane producers and/or CO2 users, possibly in partnership with other entities. A high value is placed on synergies with methanation (recycling of residual methane, in-situ recovery, agricultural uses, etc.).
Location (MANDATORY)The methanation sites concerned must be in the Occitanie or Nouvelle-Aquitaine regions (refer to the map of injection sites), or nearby (border areas). The use of biogenic CO2 is required. The proximity of the CO2 recovery site is a selection criterion of this call for projects.
Maturity level (MANDATORY)The maturity level and flexibility of the project presented are selection criteria. The innovative nature of the project will be appraised. The methanation unit should preferably already exist or be under construction.
Economic gain and durability of the projectThe project should bring an economic benefit to the methanation unit, promoting the competitiveness of biomethane. An evaluation of the possible benefit is presented.
Environmental benefitThe project contributes to the movement to limit climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases[1]. An evaluation of the possible benefit is presented.

Winner of the Call for Projects

Proposals for the two regions, Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine, will be considered separately, leading to 1 winner per region provided that proposals complying with the selection criteria are received.

Winners will receive financial support from GRDF for the implementation of their project. This could be in the form of funding for a technical feasibility study, for putting together a business plan, a market survey, etc. The aim is to help projects to complete their initial development phases. GRDF reserves the right to use the results of these studies for future projects (in compliance with non-disclosure obligations).

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[1] Greenhouse gases