Green light for restarting the Gardanne biomass plant

Green light for restarting the Gardanne biomass plant

Violet Field inPlanetDec 29, 2020 2 min read1 views

This power station must supply 6% of the electricity of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region and participate in the environmental transition

Gardanne coal-fired power station - Gérard Julien / AFP

Greenlight for the Gardanne biomass plant, the largest in France. The Marseille administrative court of appeal restored the operating license, at a crucial time for its future. In June 2017, the Marseille administrative court canceled the authorization of the operator, at the time the German group Uniper, considering that it had not sufficiently assessed the impact of such a plant - currently at the 'stop - on the forests of the Southeast.

But in a judgment dated December 24 and made public on Monday, the administrative court of appeal ruled "that logging and electricity production were separate activities (...) and that they could not be viewed as a participant in the realization of the same program ”. The court thus followed the conclusions of the public rapporteur during the hearing on December 11.

Some 300 million euros have been invested in this biomass plant which generates, according to its operator, 70 direct jobs. With a power of 150 megawatts, it must ultimately provide 6% of the electricity production of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, by consuming 850,000 tonnes of biomass, mostly wood.

A factory criticized for its gigantism

Biomass must contribute to the energy transition, but the Gardanne plant is criticized by environmental associations for its gigantism. France Nature Environnement estimates that it "provides for the felling of hundreds of thousands of trees per year, their transport over several hundred kilometers, to produce electricity which will cost three times the market price", so many arguments refuted by the State in particular.

Currently shut down, the plant could restart "in the first days of January and run at full speed in the spring," said GazelEnergie CEO Jean-Michel Mazalerat on December 22.