Anaerobic digestion in France: the industry, challenges and opportunities

Caen, France

4 March 2020 - 4 March 2020

The Detecte event in Caen, March 2020. 

A two-day event was organised recently by the Detecte project in France, focusing on the challenges and opportunities associated with the development of anaerobic digestion.

Funded by ALG-AD and the Research Program For Regional Development the event welcomed a wide range of stakeholders in the sector from a variety of companies as well as researchers, local and regional authorities and investors.

Day one began with an overview of the current state of anaerobic digestion in France. Sébastien Bourdin from EM Normandy, presented the results of the DETECTE project, a research programme which focuses on the obstacles to the development of anaerobic digestion. It investigated the issue of territorial governance and developed a geographical information system, or GIS, showing the potential for the development of anaerobic digestion in the West region in France.

Madeleine Bréguet of Novatech then presented the Normandy Anaerobic Digestion Plan to support the development of the sector by contributing to the achievement of the ambitious national objectives of renewable energy and green gas production.

The first round table assessed the subject of social acceptability, and those taking part included Evan Lebrun from the Chamber of Agriculture of Mayenne, Olivier Girma from the Chamber of Agriculture of Brittany, Axelle Larroumet  from HobLik and François-Xavier Dumur who represented TER'GREEN.

The debate made it possible to define the concept of social acceptability, to share feedback on anaerobic digestion projects that have been facing social opposition, and to stress the importance of involving all the players in the area at a very early stage in anaerobic digestion projects, in particular elected representatives and local residents.

The day continued with a second round table on the theme of supporting the deployment of anaerobic digestion in the field. Yoann Leblanc from ENGIE and Mickaël Thomas from Cluster Méthatlantique, both professionals in the sector, presented their activities on developing anaerobic digestion and how they support the professionalization of the sector, of which the Qualimétha label is an example.

Following the testimonies of Stéphane Buisson from CERFRANCE on the support of anaerobic digestion projects as an advisory desk, and Vincent from Méthacaux on the delivery of an anaerobic digestion project by a group of farmers, the day ended with the presentation of the PSDR programme by Eric Dufour from INRAE.

Day two was devoted to the exploration of an alternative and innovative way of valorising digestates from anaerobic digestion: the cultivation of micro-algae.

Nina Bailet representing AC3A and Denis De La Broise from the University of West Brittany presented our ALG-AD project. The pair outlined that the project is experimenting how best to cultivate microalgae grown on digestate in photobioreactors installed in three pilot sites in France, the United Kingdom and Belgium.

The morning continued with the intervention of Lucie Van Haver from Algosolis who presented the potential for the use of microalgae in agriculture. The group were informed that this bioresource is promising for many sectors including human and animal food, cosmetics and nutraceuticals, materials, industrial ecology, and has already found applications in agriculture in the form of biostimulants and biopesticides.

The day ended with a presentation by Alassane Keita from French food safety agency ANSES, focusing on the health aspects of the use of digestate. It also looked at the analyses the agency has already carried out during the ALG-AD project. ANSES is currently carrying out analyses for the project to establish the microbiological status of the digestate used and of the status of the algae culture before and after filtration. This will help establish whether filtration is sufficient to eliminate pathogens and allow the development of a final product.


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