Circular economy : consuming less but better

Amid a climate of energy transition, consuming less but better is becoming a priority. Moving towards a circular economy model requires more emphasis on new methods of design, production and consumption. Whether this means extending the useful life of products, utilizing assets (renting, sharing, etc.) rather than owning them, and reusing and recycling components, the aim remains the same: waste fewer natural resources to embark on a model of regeneration.

More specifically, in energy terms, this can be done by :

  • further developing renewable energies;
  • converting waste from the agri-food industry and sludge from waste-treatment plants into green gas (biomethane), and then injecting it into the natural gas distribution grid;
  • introducing sustainable energy solutions that include a life-cycle analysis and address issues of eco-design and recycling.

GRDF is now considering alternative energy solutions for the future, convinced of the need to move away from a linear approach based on fossil fuels that are produced, consumed and then discarded, to a circular economy, converting agricultural waste into biofuel, and recycling waste water to heat towns and cities.

Benefits of a circular economy

First and foremost, the circular economy helps to reduce pollution and other harmful substances and the consumption of natural resources. But it also helps regional areas become more competitive and boosts local job markets.

Regional areas become more competitive

Moving to a circular economy also means “innovating”. Developing processes to regenerate waste, via innovative recycling programs, and the use of renewable energies, etc. are some of the initiatives implemented at local level that help create value and develop ethical opportunities for local authorities. It generates a positive image and greater appeal for regional areas.

A consolidated local labor market

By making regional areas more appealing, the circular economy helps prevent businesses from moving away. We are therefore actively involved in the biomethane initiative and fully support it. Companies that set up in regional areas, close to newly identified primary and secondary resources, hire locally. This is a real boon for local employment.

GRDF is working with the regions on a daily basis to develop a new, more sustainable economic model that combines natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Now is the time to start building the economic model of tomorrow, and we are actively involved in developing the circular economy, mainly through work in biomethane initiatives, NGV and the deployment of Gazpar smart meters.

Biomethane, at the core of a virtuous energy circle

GRDF supports development of the biomethane sector. Waste from households and from the agri-food, restaurant/catering and agricultural industries, together with sludge from waste-treatment plants and non-hazardous waste collection sites (ISDNDs), are all sources of green energy. This energy is 100% renewable and can be used for heating, cooking, domestic hot water and mobility (freight transport, passenger transport and waste collection).

One person’s waste is another’s energy, and greenhouse gases are reduced for everyone.

Biomethane is a 100% circular energy that plays a key role in helping France meet the environmental targets it has set for 2020 :

  • 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions;
  • 20% increase in renewable energies in the energy mix;
  • 20% improvement in energy efficiency.

Conscious that it can also make their communities more self-sufficient, many local players have already embarked on projects to produce and inject biomethane into the natural gas network. By 2020, forecasts for biomethane injections in the grid are between 3 TWh and 9 TWh, equivalent to the energy consumed by 70,000 to 220,000 low-consumption homes.

The Gazpar smart meter, an exemplary product of the circular economy

Transitioning to a circular economy also means inventing more sustainable products. We have therefore incorporated three circular aspects into the design and roll-out of our new Gazpar smart meters (automatic remote reading) :

  • An analysis of the meter’s life cycle to calculate the environmental benefits of remote-reading and identify the product’s main impact sources (material used, construction of new information systems, roll-out) throughout its life cycle.
  • Eco-design, helping to make decisions that can reduce a product’s environmental impact at each design stage.
  • Recycling of discarded meters and other equipment used in deployment.

Increasingly committed to the circular economy !

By developing products and services that combine gas and renewable energies to offer clean and sustainable alternative energy solutions, GRDF’s strategy focuses around the circular economy.

On February 6, 2013, we co-founded the Circular Economy Institute in France and each year we attend parliamentary meetings on the circular economy, alongside France’s leading experts in this field. There are many opportunities for all to discuss and debate how to build the network of the future.