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France's Engie makes Eur800 million pledge to green gas development

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London — France's Engie plans to invest Eur800 million ($902 million) over the next five years in the development of green gases as it looks to support a French government target of at least 10% green gas penetration by 2030.

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Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher made the green gas pledge at the inauguration Friday of the Beauce Gatinais Biogas (BGB) biogas plant in France.

The development of green gases -- such as biomethane, hydrogen, power-to-gas projects and other forms of gas decarbonization -- is a growing trend in the European gas industry as it looks to retain a role for gas in a decarbonized future Europe.

The industry is still in its infancy, but initiatives are pushing the industry forward, for example in Denmark where 10% of gas in the grid is in the form of green gas, according to Orsted.

Engie said that by 2030 it aims to "mobilize" together with its partners a total of Eur2 billion to produce 5 TWh/year of biomethane by that date, the equivalent of 0.5 Bcm/year.

That is a small amount of gas, representing just over 1% of current French gas demand.

The Eur10 million BGB plant inaugurated Friday will produce minimal volumes -- just 23 GWh or 2.4 million cu m/year -- of biomethane through the processing of mainly agricultural by-products of plant origin.

COST COMPETITIVENESS

Despite the initial marginal volumes, Engie said it would look to drive the industry forward, partnering with others to enable the emergence of nationally-focused small- and medium-sized enterprises.

That, in turn, will help increase the proportion of French technologies in relevant biogas projects, it said.

"Gas, which will gradually become green, will play a key role in the decarbonization of our country, along with other sources of clean energy generation," Kocher said.

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"Produced domestically, green gas is easily storable and non-intermittent. As such, it has unique properties that make it the natural partner of renewable energy sources," she said.

Costs would need to fall to make the production of biomethane more competitive, it said.

"The group's objective is to support the sector's industrialization to reduce costs by about 30-40% by 2030 and achieve cost parity with gas," it said.

--Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com