Veolia's biogas unit supplies more than 1,000 households on France’s Atlantic coast

Posted on 30 April 2020.

In September 2019, the anaerobic digestion plant in Soudan, managed by the Veolia subsidiary SEDE, went one step further by opening a biogas unit. Sold to GRDF, the biogas is injected into the public grid. A first for this area in western France.

Ultimately, the plant operated by Veolia's subsidiary SEDE aims to produce 14,600 MW of biogas – enough to supply 4,500 people.

In western France, in the Loire-Atlantique area, biogas is an increasingly important part of the energy mix. In September 2019, the anaerobic digestion plant in Soudan opened a biogas production unit which converts organic matter into renewable energy.
The project was led by SEDE – a subsidiary of the Veolia Group that specializes in recovering organic by-products. 

How does the unit operate? Local farmers and food processors bring their organic waste (manure, damaged cereals and fruit and vegetables) to the Soudan plant. After being checked, the waste is put into fermentation tanks ("digesters"). In the absence of oxygen and under the effect of heat (42°C), bacteria develop and break down the organic matter.

Digestate and biogas

The digestate (residue of anaerobic digestion) obtained can be used as fertilizer to feed agricultural crops or to balance the soil. As for the biogas, it is purified to retain only the methane, which then has qualities similar to those of natural gas. Sold to the gas distributor GRDF, it is injected into the public gas network.

"This is the first injection point in the department. Others will be completed by the beginning of 2020," explained Sofia Tendron, climate energy engineer for the area last October.

Currently, 1,350 homes, as well as the FMGC plant (a foundry) located near the site, are supplied with the biogas. Eventually, the plant hopes to produce 14,600 MW of biogas – enough to supply 4,500 people. 
"This bio-waste recycling is a good example of circular economy," says the local politician, Yves Daniel. And rightly so since the sector produces renewable energy, along with organic fertilizer.