Orne. Methanization: return to the first unit in the country of Alençon while the projects multiply

The anaerobic digestion site was installed in May 2010. (© L’Orne weekly)

If I had to do it again, it would be without hesitation. Michel Manoury is affirmative. At the head of the Gaec of the Manets farm, with his brothers in Semallé, he embarked on the adventure of anaerobic digestion more than ten years ago.

Energy with manure

“At that moment, the companions looked at us strangely,” smiles the farmer, installed at the gates of Alençon (Orne).

“I heard: blah, a gas plant. But we come to the end of our idea. And we do not regret it. “

Michel Manoury Agriculteur

It was in May 2010. At that time, the idea was simple for the Manoury family: how to recover the waste from their cattle farm?

Methanization quickly took over the minds of farmers. It is simply a matter of producing energy (gas, electricity or heat) from the manure on the farm.

Per day, the site treats 14 to 17 tons of waste.

Per day, the site treats 14 to 17 tons of waste. (© L’orne weekly)


The first steps were complicated. “There wasn’t even a law,” recalls the farmer. “Fortunately, we were able to count on the support of the Prefect at that time, so that we could move forward. “

If some were laughing behind the back of the Manourys, quickly, many of them came to see the facility and get information.

“We saw people from all over, to find out how we had done it, to know the figures for recovered waste and energy sold. “

Michel Manoury Agriculteur

In the crowd, too, several struggling farmers who might think anaerobic digestion was going to rescue their farm, “but it’s a misconception to think that.”

An “economic bet”

Because for Manoury, anaerobic digestion has never been considered a sufficient source of income on its own.

“It is a complement. Our first focus was environmental. This is how we manage our farm. But it can be a good supplement to income in more difficult times. “

Michel Manoury Agriculteur

He even admits that at times, “we were able to earn more money from our manure than from the meat! »But this is another matter … Therefore, it does not throw stones at those who install anaerobic digestion sites, without necessarily being attached to a farm. “It has just become an economic problem. “

Then the digestate spreads over the fields.

Then the digestate spreads over the fields. (© L’Orne weekly)

14 t of manure per day

In 2010, the family had considered joining the Valframbert gas network, “but it was too expensive, so we opted to produce electricity and thermal energy.”

The Manourys could now transform their site and turn to gas.

“It is not on the agenda yet, even if the reflection has started. We will see when it will be necessary to change the generator motor, for example, because it is still an investment. “

Eric Manoury as Agriculteur

The farm’s anaerobic digestion site has been identical since it was installed. With its electric power of 150 kW, it meets the objectives of those responsible for Gaec.

“We feed him about 14 tons of manure a day. Therefore, it processes more than 5,000 tons per year. “

Eric Manoury as Agriculteur

A manure that does not disappear for all that: then the digestate is recovered (a liquid part and a solid part) while it is “improved”. It has become a better quality soil fertilizer (with ammonia nitrogen that plants absorb more easily and quickly after application).

11 years after the start of their anaerobic digestion site, the Manoury brothers claim they have encountered no real opposition.

And continue to explain to the curious, on the occasion of its open doors, how the manure of its livestock can produce electricity, at home, and gas in other places. “And the amazement is always there …”, smiles Michel Manoury.

Map of methanization sites in the department.

Map of methanization sites in the department. (© Orne Prefecture)

Current and future sites

The Manets farm in Semallé is a pioneer in the country of Alençon and in Orne. “We were supposed to be the fifteenth project nationwide,” recalls Michel Manoury. It paved the way for other projects, agricultural or industrial.
To Gandelain
Near Alençon, we can evoke that of Gandelain, in Gaec de Beauséjour. A dry process unit whose process is in the process of being changed, according to one of the managers. Without wanting to expand in the press on the subject, he affirms that this facility contributed “only positive” to his farm.
In Macé
Over the past year, the Besnard family farm in Macé has resorted to anaerobic digestion and produced gas. To feed the tanks: grass, horse manure and cattle. An investment motivated by additional income and the desire to reduce the use of phytosanitary products.
In Saint-Paterne
In Saint-Paterne-le-Chevain, another site is active: that of the Monsterleet brothers, of the SCEA (civil society of agricultural exploitation) of Cohon. Both are installed in the north of France and already have a methanizer that provides electricity in their operation. At the gates of Alençon, its new methanizer is destined to produce gas. This industrial site met strong opposition, particularly from the Confédération paysanne. Recently, an extension request received numerous unfavorable opinions from local elected officials.
Several projects are in process. In Lonrai, Nicolas Duboust plans to install three tanks to recover the waste from his cereal farm. There, again, the project is debated and a firm and definitive agreement has not yet been reached.
In Semallé, the Fortin-Leroy company (based in Valframbert) also wants to install an agricultural methanization unit in the La Blardière business area. Objective: to recover 47 tons of ecological agricultural and vegetable matter. Contacted by phone, the managers did not want to speak on the subject.

In short, anaerobic digestion seems a complicated issue to tackle and the protagonists prefer discretion …


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