On March 29, 2013, the “Energy Methanization Autonomy Nitrogen” plan was launched with two main objectives.
The first objective is to balance fertilization in France, including a general reduction and the substitution of mineral nitrogen with livestock manure.
The second one is the development of renewable energies, which is part of France’s “energy transition.”
How to encourage balanced nitrogen fertilization?
Because nitrogen is crucial to all crops, but is also a source of water pollution and a greenhouse gas, it is important to encourage good practices of its use.
Four key objectives are presented in the nitrogen section of the plan:
- To curb the waste of azotes, from fields to counties.
- To optimize the nitrogen cycle. The plan encourages farms to become nitrogen independent and adapt crop practices (by using intermediary or legume crops, for instance). It also means the government should reduce limitations on organic nitrogen use and encourage a better mix of crop and breeding production throughout the country.
The French government announced a 2013 budget of 10 million euros for projects that would encourage communal actions in local areas to manage the use of mineral nitrogen.
- To treat and transport organic nitrogen from one county to another. This will allow producers of surplus organic nitrogen to provide it to those who lack it. The government also foresees to standardize and approve products coming from treated livestock manure.
- To curb the use of mineral nitrogen trough incentive fiscal measures.
From an economic point of view, this plan will help farms become more profitable by helping them to reduce their fertilization costs and limit their dependence on mineral nitrogen.
Methanization: a way to the French “energy transition”
The “Energy Methanization Autonomy Nitrogen” plan also aims to develop a French model of methanization that encourages communal installations and French technology.
In 2012, there were only 90 methanization plants in France. The government foresees the construction of 1,000 plants in farms by the end of 2020 because of this plan. To achieve this goal, a broad range of measures have been adopted in order to:
- Ease the process of selling electricity produced from biogas.
- To better utilize financial aid from the government (by extending existing subsidies to include methanization).
- To increase the number of raw materials allowed in methanization (e.g., agroindustry wastes, farm wastes, public wastes, etc.).
- To encourage research and development on this topic.
- To facilitate the settlement of plants (studies, planning of development, local supply chain) and follow projects at every step of their development.
- Origins of nitrogen inputs in France:
- Chemical: 2,110 kMT/year
- Livestock manure: 1,820 kMT/year
- Symbiotic fixation: 500 kMt/ year
- Mud from water treatment plant: 21kMT/ year
- 1,000 methanization plants will be created by 2020.
- This aims to provide 625 MW of electricity and 555 kTEP (tons of petroleum equivalent) of heat converted from biogas by the end of 2020, quadrupling biogas production in France in 2010.