>@Cyrille Lachèvre/EIB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and RGREEN INVEST announce a new milestone in their partnership with their first investment in the French biogas production sector through a EUR 5 million participation by the INFRAGREEN III fund in the Méthajoule company in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

When the INFRAGREEN III fund, which is managed by RGREEN INVEST, was launched, the EIB contributed EUR 50 million, enabling it to close in December 2018 above its fund-raising objectives, at EUR 307 million.

The fund's aim is to invest in real assets in the energy transition sector and, in particular, in renewable energies in France and the European Union, by targeting photovoltaic and wind power projects and also geothermal, biomass, biogas production and energy-efficiency schemes. The EIB’s financial support falls under the European Fund for Strategic Investments, also known as the Juncker Plan.

INFRAGREEN III and Méthajoule, a company specialising in the development and operation of renewable energy production sites, have signed a partnership to promote biogas production projects located in France (up to EUR 10 million).

The first project submitted is a 500 kWe/400 kWth combined heat and power plant using biogas produced from agricultural waste. The electricity generated by the site, which is currently being built in the municipality of Sainte-Eulalie in the Cantal department, will be sold to EDF. The thermal energy will be fed into a 620 m heating network serving a business park. Part of the biogas will also be used as bio-NGV to fuel the household refuse collection vehicles of the Pays de Salers association of municipalities. This partnership will promote the emergence of a major operator in the field of biogas production, with a strong local focus, in which local stakeholders will eventually be offered an equity participation. Initially set at EUR 5 million, RGREEN INVEST’s investment can then gradually be increased to EUR 10 million.

This investment demonstrates the commitment of INFRAGREEN III and RGREEN INVEST to establish a strong regional foothold and help develop the local economy,” commented RGREEN INVEST’s Managing Partner Nicolas Rochon. In fact, the inputs come mainly from local farmers and the average radius of collection and redistribution of the waste material is less than 15 km. In addition, this site will serve as a pilot for the implementation of an innovative digestate composting process.

This operation is very important to the EIB as the EU bank,” explained EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle. “Through the RGREEN INVEST fund, Europe is demonstrating that it can help the agricultural sectors develop, as closely as possible to the local level. In addition, our entry into the biogas production sector is a further important step in the development of our strategy to combat climate change.” 

Méthajoule’s CEO Olivier Bouttes welcomed the partnership: “It is our aim to use local resources to produce renewable energy as part of a circular economy and territorial planning strategy. The signing of this agreement with financial partners which share our values creates the ideal conditions to further the implementation our projects. It will help us consolidate our position in the development, construction and operation of local biogas production sites, contributing to a sector of the future.”