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Akuo launches its wood biomass cogeneration plant in Novillars

By TEAM R20 | 19th February 2019 | Updated at 02:02

A Greener World

| Akuo Energy, France’s leading independent producer of renewable and distributed energy, as well as its project partners, inaugurated the Novillars Cogeneration Plant in the presence of Ms Emmanuelle Wargon, Secretary of State to the Minister of State, Minister of Ecological Transition and Solidarity.


A project supporting energy transition

With a capacity of 20 MWe and a thermal capacity of 63 MWth, this project was born from partnership of Akuo Biomasse and a long-standing player in paper production, the Gemdoubs paper mill. The biomass power plant will sell electricity to EDF for 20 years as well as thermal energy in the form of steam to Gemdoubs SAS in order to cover all its industrial needs.

A major asset for Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region

CBN is a real tool for revitalizing the territory. The project improves Gemdoubs papermill competitivity by guaranteeing 200 000 tons of steam per year at a controlled price. Indeed, the energy bill is the first expense of the papermill after its raw material supply –which consists of recycled paper.

A circular economy project

The power plant produces electricity and steam from a wood resource coming from a secondary forest located nearby (on average 50km). It also develops the wood sector in the region by adding value to wood that has no existing market. What is more, Gemdoubs papermill is supplied with recycled paper coming from Bourgogne Franche-Comté.

A positive impact on job creation and professional training

This project has contributed to the economic development of the territory by using local and national service providers to carry out its work that lasted 27 months and involved nearly 120 people. In addition, the paper mill’s energy bill has been reduced, allowing it to keep its 70 jobs.

50 jobs in the wood sector have been preserved and CBN has created around 20 new jobs to operate of the plant. Finally, this inauguration took place in the presence of the students of the BAC PRO “wood” and “landscape“ from the CFAA of Chateaufarine, Besançon. Their presence here testifies the vitality of renewable energies in terms of direct or induced job creation.

A €87 million investment

CBN is owned by Akuo Energy, Banque des Territoires, CAPG Energies Nouvelles (formerly-CAM Energie), Gemdoubs and Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté Investissements. The plant was fully financed in October 2016 for a total amount of €87 million. A banking pool composed of Banque Populaire Méditerranée, BNP Paribas, Bpifrance Financement, Caisse d’Epargne Loire Centre, Caisse d’Epargne et de Prévoyance Bourgogne Franche-Comté and Unifergie – Crédit Agricole Group, led by Natixis Energéco, provided the senior bank debt financing. In addition, the Mirova EuroFideme 3 fund, the Banque des Territoires and Méthanor financed the project’s junior debt.

First Biomass project open to crowdfunding

In order to benefit from the profitability of the Novillars power plant, Akuo Energy offers all citizens the opportunity to participate in the project refinancing through its AkuoCoop platform. The objective of this approach is to highlight the advantages of wood biomass cogeneration: continuous energy production and valorization of wood with no market. Since its creation, the platform has raised more than three million euros for an average amount of 962 euros per lender.

Eric Scotto, CEO and co-fondateur of Akuo Energy, says:

Novillars Biomass Cogeneration Plant is an exemplary circular economy project that perfectly follows the logic of further clean energy development, but also industrial synergies growth. Surrounding ourselves with all these major partners was a wise choice that allowed us to successfully complete this project and to inaugurate this biomass cogeneration plant today.

Dr. Fady Gemayel, President of Gemdoubs, added:

The launch of the Novillars cogeneration plant is another important milestone for Gemdoubs, a manufacturer of packaging paper. In addition to controlling energy costs, this project confirms Gemdoubs as an important player in the local circular economy committed to reducing its environmental footprint. Hence, 50% of our “green” papers are exported for the benefit of the community.

Antoine Bréhard, Regional Director of the Banque des Territoires, said:

We have invested €7.7 million in an industrial site that has long been weakened, 120 jobs have been sustained and 20 created. This support is part of the Banque de Territories’ action to promote more sustainable and attractive territories.

Ms Emmanuelle Wargon, Secretary of State to the Minister of State, Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition concludes by stating:

What we see here are acts in the service of a great ambition. (…) This project is absolutely remarkable. (…) When you see this type of projects, you say “the Energy Transition is possible”.