French energy company ENGIE has inaugurated the second largest biomass boiler unit at Saint-Denis, Île-de-France.

Isabelle Kocher (CEO of ENGIE Group), Farida Adlani (Vice-President of the Île-de-France Region), Patrick Braouezec (President of Plaine Commune Energie), Didier Paillard (Vice-Chairman of the Plaine Commune Urban Community and President of the SMIREC), Laurent Russier (Mayor of Saint-Denis), Joëlle Colosio (ADEME Île-de-France Regional Director) inaugurated the new biomass boiler unit of Saint-Denis.

A saving of over 56,000 tonnes of CO2 each year in the local area.

On-stream since October 2016, the biomass boiler unit of Saint-Denis, with a power of 26.5 megawatts (MW), combines preservation of the environment with the fight against fuel poverty. Greening the district heating of Plaine Commune has been carried out in stages, since the creation of the network in the 1950s and it now operates with over 50% renewable energies. The use of biomass means that 56,000 fewer tonnes of CO2 per year are discharged into the atmosphere, the equivalent of the annual emissions of 25,000 vehicles.

The district heating network of Saint-Denis, called Plaine Commune Energie, covers a wide perimeter since it supplies the equivalent of 40,000 housing units located in four municipalities. With almost 60 km of buried pipes and 400 delivery points, the Plaine Commune network is the second largest district heating network of the Ile-de-France and the third largest network in France.

4 towns involved in the energy transition

The city of Saint-Denis and towns of Stains, Pierrefitte and L’Ile-Saint-Denis are interconnected by the district heating network managed by Plaine Commune Energie under a 25-year delegation of public service contract. This contract is delegated to the Syndicat Mixte des Réseaux d’Energie Calorifique (SMIREC). ENGIE Réseaux, the SMIREC and the four municipalities share the same ambition of environmental excellence and sustainable local development. “We are committed to taking an active part in accelerating the energy transition of our local area,” Laurent Russier, Mayor of Saint-Denis stated. The majority use of green energy will benefit users since the VAT they pay on their heating bills will be reduced to 5.5%. Saint-Denis, Stains, Pierrefitte and L’Ile-Saint-Denis are part of the nine towns of Plaine Commune, the largest public local authority in Ile-de-France. Aware of its responsibility as a local authority, Plaine Commune has been engaged since the 2000s in a policy of combating climate change.

In the framework of the energy transition, the boiler project was financed by ADEME (The French environment and energy management agency) (€ 4.4 million) and Paris Region (€ 2 million), out of the € 40 million invested.

In a context where their economic equilibrium has become more fragile, support for district heating networks requires significant collective involvement by local authorities, developers, financiers, operators… Didier Paillard, President of the SMIREC, the manager of the urban heating public services, emphasises the importance of district heating networks over the long term: “The elected representatives of the SMIREC have, for several decades, pursued exemplary policies in support of district heating networks, drivers of renewable energy development on a large scale. One must stand firm and not to give in to the temptation of short-termism in relation to energy, but on the contrary look ahead to the future by taking into account the strengths of urban heating in terms of price stability and environmental benefits.”

ENGIE, a local partner of dynamic and sustainable towns and regions

To better meet local authorities’ requirements, the ENGIE Group offers them district heating networks which use renewable energies. Operating a total of 17 biomass boiler units in France, its subsidiary ENGIE Réseaux has substantial expertise in assisting its customers with implementing the energy transition. ENGIE offers solutions that are innovative, powerful and adapted to renewable energies which address both the economic challenges and ecological issues. Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE, recalls the desire of the Group to develop ‘low-carbon’ solutions and stated: “ENGIE is proud to contribute to the local energy transition supported by the municipalities and by Plaine Commune. The greening of a district heating network is a significant step forward in this area. I welcome the work done to move from words to actions: some people simply talk of the energy transition, but we are making it happen with our partners and for our customers.”