Biogas, the energy of the future?
- Apr 18, 2020 6:16 am GMT
Natural gas, the energy of modernity in the 19th century, has today become one of the most used and commonplace resources of our energy consumption. But how can we find an alternative to this fossil resource at the time of the climate emergency?
According to an article in the World of Energy , the consumption of primary energy (unprocessed energy) increased in 2018 by 2% worldwide, and 85% of this primary energy is still represented by fossil fuels. We therefore understand the urgency of transforming the existing model. But what are the possible options to stem the growing and extremely polluting use of fossil fuels in all areas of the world? Arol Energy and Enosis are two French startups that have chosen to invest in biogas, and tell us a little more about this too little known energy, which nevertheless represents a serious alternative to natural gas.
Natural gas, a new pillar of the energy mix
Many European countries have started a process to minimize their use of coal ( France would like to close its coal power plants by 2022 ), in fact the consumption of natural gas seems to take the lead in fossil fuels, even going beyond its 3 traditional uses: heating, washing and cooking. But this drastic increase in energy from the ground does not lighten the environmental bill, which requires finding another option. This is where a renewable gas comes in: biogas.
Biogas is a gas from waste processing, which is therefore renewable. There are two kinds of biogas: the eponymous gas, resulting from the mechanization of agricultural waste, and syngas, resulting from the pyro-gasification of biomass.
To get the biogas, we put bio-waste (canteen, food, agriculture waste) in tanks, and let it ferment. This process, called anaerobic digestion, releases biogas, which can then be recovered.
The process can be applied to solid waste (biomass), which is not burned, but which is raised in heat by thermal processes, to release synthesis gas this time, syngas.
However, explains Vincent Guerré, founder of the startup Enosis, which specializes in the transformation of biogas, the biogas from these processes cannot be injected as it is into existing gas networks. “ You have to check that gas is not circulated with dirt, because the gases must maintain certain standards. To be able to inject biogas, you have to transform these gases and clean them to replace them with natural gas . ”
A work that the Toulouse startup does by converting the share of CO2 present in biogas into methane. The startup Arol Energy, founded in 2012 by David Bossan, is working on the purification of complex biogas from urban waste.
Biogas, an underestimated energy
However, few people are informed about the issue of biogas. According to Vincent Guerré, “ biogas does not necessarily have a positive image today, for the simple reason that few people really know what it is ”. And David Bossan confirms that “ this lack of awareness, even if numerous communication initiatives are carried out, can sometimes create unfounded fears on the part of local residents on the risk of nuisances that do not exist and in fact slow down the development of projects .”
However, thanks to local production, biogas could represent an alternative against the import of gas and would allow promoting a certain energy independence. In addition, this solution would make it possible to no longer pay for landfilling waste, a practice that is both very expensive and polluting. For Vincent Guerré, it would even be completely possible to completely green our gas networks by 2050. So, what are we waiting for? Well, the issue is economic: “ investing in biogas costs more than importing gas produced abroad. This is why it is necessary to help the take-off of the sector, and that the latter is capable of producing a gas whose cost price is as low as possible. Explains the founder of Enosis.
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