In Beaufort, electricity takes to the Milky Way!

Posted on 07 April 2016.

With a recycling plant coupled with a biogas plant, cheese manufacturing residues help to power 1500 homes with electricity.

Savoie Lactée makes use of an anaerobic digestion system. Result? The whey becomes energy!

They might not have oil in Savoie, but they do have cheese and some really good ideas! In the beginning were the Cistercian monks of Notre-Dame de Tamié, who by means of anaerobic digestion transformed the whey from their cheese into biogas. Today, it heats the water in their twelfth century abbey.

And now it’s the turn of the Union des Producteurs de Beaufort to take the plunge. Thanks to Savoie Lactée, a brand new biogas plant which has germinated in Albertville, these seven cooperatives have successfully met a triple ecological challenge: reduce their carbon footprint, make use of the byproduct from their production process so it does not become waste, and produce green electricity.

800,000 kilometers of truck journeys

The idea of these cheese makers was to recycle the whey themselves – making it a source of income. Now it’s a done deal. In the gleaming tanks of Savoie Lactée the whey becomes butter, ricotta cheese or whey powder.

Relocating whey processing has put a stop to the 800,000 km of truck journeys needed every year when recycling was in Verdun, in the Meuse. Result? At least 1,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent per year are now avoided. And that's not all!

Whey turns into biogas

Savoie Lactée includes a state of the art biogas plant that recovers production waste to make biogas. Methane-rich, this renewable energy is either used in a boiler to heat the water in the plant, or is converted into green electricity in a cogeneration unit. Sold to EDF, it provides another source of revenue for the Union des Producteurs de Beaufort. In total, more than 3 million kWh is fed back into the network each year. Enough to supply electricity to at least 1,500 people.