Anaerobic digestion: measures to reduce disturbances and risks

The new anaerobic digestion plants will soon have to be located at least 200 meters from surrounding houses, not just 50 meters away, Environment Transition Minister Barbara Pompili said on Wednesday, announcing several measures aimed at reducing the risks and disruptions associated with them. with these sites.

“New orders are being drafted, which will also make it possible to promote the acceptability of certain projects,” she said, noting that the reaction of the local population “can often make farmers fear” to start. “We have to face the issue of interference.”

Ms. Pompili was heard in the Senate by her agricultural colleague Julien Denormandie, an information mission on methanization.

France has more than 220 methanizers, two-thirds of which are agricultural, allowing biogas production from organic waste and other livestock wastewater, which has been booming for ten years.

“The regulatory distance between facilities and third parties will be reduced from 50 to 200 m from 1 January 2023,” Ms Pompili said. “Except for the smallest, where we will climb to 100 m.”

In order to prevent gas leaks, “checks with a sufficient frequency of integrity of all tanks: in particular a six-month check of the sealing parts” will be carried out.

To prevent pollution, “retention facilities will be needed to store liquid digestate (substances remaining after the waste is converted to gas, editor’s note) or any other material that can contaminate water and soil,” she added.

The publication of these regulations is expected in May.

Against odor interference, each applicant for a new installation will have to create an “initial state of perception,” she added, “This will serve as a reference in case of a complaint”.

The two ministers reiterated state support for this renewable energy, an additional income for farmers.

“The government wants to produce more biogas,” Ms. Pompili said.

“But it’s only feasible if we manage to reduce production costs. Today, the state (that gas) buys between 5 and 10 times more expensive than natural gas.”

In late 2020, the government announced a reform of guarantees of origin and a change in the support framework, which is now based on new installations and, depending on the size of the site, on a revised purchase price or calls for tenders.

The sector, concerned about the impact of this new framework, proposed to the government an “extra-budgetary” mechanism that would impose an obligation on energy suppliers to produce or purchase biomethane, with the award of “green certificates”.

“We’re thinking about it,” Ms. Pompili said.

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