CMA CGM and ENGIE to Invest in First Large-Scale Biomethane Plant

biomethane production
CMA CGM will have 77 vessels ready to operate on bio fuels by 2026 (CMA CGM)

Published Jul 1, 2022 4:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

One of the challenges the shipping industry frequently speaks about is the volume of alternative fuels that will be required to support the transition to green operations and the need to build the infrastructure. CMA CGM in partnership with ENGIE is continuing to seek opportunities for the production of biofuels. Expanding their partnership, the shipping company said it plans to invest in the first industrial-scale facility for the production of second-generation biomethane fuel.

CMA CGM said it plans to co-invest in the “Salamander project,” planned for a location in the Port of Le Harve. Projected to cost approximately $150 million, they plan to make an investment decision in late 2022. Production could begin as early as 2026.

“ENGIE is innovating with a new local production method for second-generation biomethane using wood waste, underpinned by an energy production technology involving pyrogasification process,” said Edouard Sauvage, Executive Vice President Infrastructure at ENGIE. “The scale of the project reflects our ambitions and accelerated development in renewable gas production.”

Salamander plans to come on stream gradually in 2026. Production would be scaled up to reach 11,000 tons of second-generation biomethane annually. The biomethane would be produced in a process fueled by dry biomass from local wood-waste sources, along with solid recovered fuel. The biomethane is produced using ENGIE’s pyrogasification process.

Together the companies said their goal is to develop production for up to 200,000 tons of renewable gas annually worldwide by 2028. The fuel would be used to meet the needs of CMA CGM and the broader shipping industry.

“To reach our target of net-zero carbon by 2050, the CMA CGM Group is seeking to form solid industrial partnerships, led by this initiative with ENGIE,” said Christine Cabau Woehrel, Executive Vice President Assets and Operations at CMA CGM. “Salamander is the first industrial ramp-up to emerge from the partnership, an advanced pilot helping to develop the renewable gas sector, in keeping with the goals of energy independence and the energy transition set forth by the European Commission in the RepowerEU plan.”

The CMA CGM Group highlights that it already has a fleet of 30 dual-fuel "e-methane ready” ships in operation and they expect by 2026 to have 77 ships ready to operate on the alternative fuel. The dual-fuel engine technology developed by CMA CGM, which currently runs on LNG, is capable of using bioLNG, as well as synthetic methane. 

Majority-owned by ENGIE and the CMA CGM Group, the site being considered is in Le Havre, backed by the support of the Havre Seine Métropole urban community via the investment program “Le Havre, Ville portuaire intelligente.” A funding request has been submitted to the European Commission's Innovation Fund. 

CMA CGM and ENGIE have also been working together for several months within the Coalition for the Energy of the Future. In November 2021, the companies announced their partnership focusing on the production and distribution of synthetic methane and BioLNG for use by the shipping industry. At the time, they said, an initial project to produce liquefied biomethane (BioLNG) for shipping had already been launched at the Port of Marseille. CMA CGM and Engie have been undertaking an analysis of the future potential for the development of a synthetic methane production and distribution industry while saying they would also undertake efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of BioLNG and synthetic methane for the decarbonization of the shipping industry.