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25/01/2023 News

BioBéarn, the largest biogas unit in France

  • TotalEnergies’ new biogas unit is situated in Mourenx on a 7-hectare brownfield site.
  • The biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion from locally collected organic waste.
  • When redistributed across the region, this green energy will cover the equivalent of the annual consumption of 32,000 inhabitants.

The relationship between TotalEnergies and gas in the Béarn region goes back a long way, starting with the discovery of the Lacq field in 1951. The Company today firmly believes that biomethane has a role to play in the energy transition, in terms of both decarbonization and mobility. And once again, it's all happening in the Béarn region.

“The model BioBéarn unit illustrates TotalEnergies’ ambition to become a major biogas player in France – a clean, renewable gas, which is both an alternative to natural gas and a solution for the local communities to recycle their organic waste. And the deadline is drawing near, since the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act will make sorting at source and biowaste recycling mandatory, whatever the volume produced or the producer’s activity, as from December 31, 2023, explains Omar-Benjamin Boufares, Multi-Site Manager TotalEnergies Biogaz France. As part of a circular economy approach, each year the BioBéarn unit in Mourenx will transform more than 220,000 tons of organic waste into 200,000 tons of digestate, a natural fertilizer, and into 160 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of biomethane, a decarbonized gas injected into the natural gas transport network.




An exemplary unit and the symbol of TotalEnergies’ energy transition

Kicked off in 2016, the BioBéarn project was discussed extensively with all the local stakeholders: elected representatives, neighboring populations, farmers and agri-food industries. It was completed six years later, in a tense energy context more than ever favorable to locally produced energies. Biogas is a virtuous energy! Produced from waste generated by local activities and redistributed across the region. “The Béarn methanation plant relies on 90 suppliers (including Seretram), providing liquid manure, abattoir waste, cereal waste, institutional catering waste, located on average within 40 kilometers from the site,” explains Mathieu Patalano, Operations Manager of BioBéarn. The unit has seven employees and creates 30 or so indirect jobs. BioBéarn worked with the Community of Communes of Lacq to integrate the unit and its three 24-meter-high silos into the landscape. “We planted Slender Bird’s-foot Trefoil over three hectares, and re-established hedges and banks in order to reconcile biogas production and biodiversity. In 2023, we will be the very first RED II-certified site. An approach that confirms the sustainability of the biomass used and the degree of reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.”


A local sector, new professions

The new BioBéarn unit increases TotalEnergies’ biogas production capacity to 700 GWh. The Company already has seven anaerobic digestion units producing biomethane which is injected into the gas network and 11 biogas cogeneration plants that supply heat and electricity. “Methanation expertise is hard to come by in France, which is why TotalEnergies Biogaz France has created its own training center for methanation professions at Villeneuve-sur-Lot,” says Omar-Benjamin Boufares. “All new employees receive training in the different operating stages: biology, production, maintenance, logistics, etc.”  BioBéarn will be ramped up gradually: the unit will produce 69 GWh in 2023 and 160 GWh at full capacity, at which point it will be supplying renewable gas to roughly 32,000 inhabitants, i.e. around 40% of the population of a city such as Pau. And the fertilizer will be spread on crops within a 40-kilometer radius from the new unit, which will help reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer used by nearly 5,000 tons.
As a leader of biogas in France, TotalEnergies aims to produce 20 TWh in 2030 from around 60 units, the equivalent of the annual average consumption of 4 million French people, and to reduce CO2 emissions by 4 million tons.