French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal launched a new biogas project on Tuesday in Strasbourg, the first of its kind in France and supported by the European Union (EU).
Joined by officials representing both the French state and the city of Strasbourg, Royal signed the accords which signified the official kickoff of the Biovalsan project.
Royal congratulated the city of Strasbourg for its initiative, underlining that this was first of over 50 projects that would be launched as part of France's ambitious energy transition law. The legislation aims to reduce pollution and accelerate use of green and renewable energies, with a target reduction of 50 percent in energy consumption by the year 2050 and a 40 percent reduction of green house gas emissions by 2030.
Biovalsan claims that its project will help Strasbourg reach 90 percent compliance with the 2050 emissions objectives, 35 years ahead of schedule.
By using a process relying on fermentation to convert wastewater from the Strasbourg metropolitan area into bio-methane, the innovative project will transform Strasbourg's water treatment facility into a producer of renewable green energy. According to Biovalsan, the new fuel will be used by the city's gas network and help reduce emissions by up to 6,000 tons per year, while aiming to power up to 5,000 households by 2020.
This change will make Strasbourg's gas network the greenest in France, which is welcome news in a city that, despite its reputation for ecology-friendly policy, still struggles with poor air quality. At least 40 days in 2015 have seen air quality levels in Strasbourg drop below safety thresholds.
France as a whole also received a pessimistic report on air pollution this summer. Commissioned by the French Senate and made public on July 15, the report underlined a dire need for change, estimating that air pollution in France has an economic cost of between 68 and 97 billion euros per year (76 and 109 billion U.S. dollars per year).
The new energy transition law aims to combat these problems by reducing vehicle circulation in zones suffering from poor air quality, subsidizing employers who help their workers cycle to the office, and financing cleaner energy projects like Biovalsan.