The French city of Lille has unveiled an innovative plant - unique in Europe - which will transform organic household waste into four million cubic metres of biogas a year, enough to power a fleet of 100 buses. The plant, called the Centre for Organic Recovery, is France´s first biogas fuel plant. A brand new 150-strong bus depot has been built next to the centre so the buses can fuel up on site.
The biogas-fuelled buses will join Lille´s already existing fleet of natural gas-powered buses at the end of this year and the system should be fully operational by the end of 2008, handling 108,600 tonnes of green waste per year. The cost of the project is 75 million euros, mostly financed by the city government.
The project is the result of a pan-European research project called Biogasmax which was launched in 2006. Partly financed by the European Union, Biogasmax aims to show that cities can produce high quality renewable energies from organic waste and hopes to inspire other European cities to follow Lille´s example.
But the reflection on the waste disposal issue dates back to 1989, when Lille - an early adopter of green technologies in France - decided to modify its approach to the issue by seeking ways to reuse the 700,000 tonnes of waste collected each year and convert them into sources of energy. About 650,000 of Lille´s 1.1 million residents are affected by the biogas project, and they are being exhorted to sort compostable waste like flowers, grass clippings, paper towels and tissue paper.