French cheese used to power 1,500 homes

Recycling the residues left over from cheese production is allowing farmers to produce energy across France.

French cheese used to power 1,500 homes
A cheesemaker with some Beaufort cheese. Photo: AFP

The French have known for a long time that cheese is the answer to many of life’s problems. But only recently has it been used an alternative energy source – one which supplies a year's electricity for 1,500 people in eastern France.

Producers of Beaufort cheese in the Savoie department have begun recycling the residues left over from cheese production to create new products and produce energy.

Almost 650 dairy farmers from the area have been working since October on innovative ways to re-use their waste. Producing 1kg of Beaufort cheese requires 10 litres of milk, and once the cheese has been made, the farmers are left with nine litres of lactoserum or whey – which up until now they have been forced to sell at a loss.

Reusing the waste to create more produce has opened up new possibilities for the troubled farm industry.

“The idea of the project is to use all that’s left in this whey to turn it into produce – butter, protein powder, ricotta,” Yvon Bochet, president of the Beaufort farmers' union, told BFM TV.

Making these whey products creates more residues, including sugar water, which in turn are reused by being sent to a bio-gas plant.

The plant, the only one of its kind in the world, is able to turn 99 percent of the cheese waste into biogas, which creates electricity and hot water for the plant.

The process allows French engineering company Valbio to provide electricity for 1,500 people each year.

And on top of being environmentally friendly, the region’s economy also stands to benefit. Ten new roles have been created to handle the new stages of production, and the industry is estimated to bring in €6 million per year.



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France increases to €9,000 grants for property owners

A French scheme to provide financial aid to property owners seeking to replace oil and gas boilers with eco-friendly alternatives has been extended, with grants of up to €9,000 now available.

France increases to €9,000 grants for property owners

The French government will increase the amount of money available to replace gas and oil-powered boilers through the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme, part of a package of measures announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex on Wednesday

Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said that from April 15th, some households would be able to benefit from an extra €1,000 to “accelerate the replacement of fossil fuel-powered boilers with renewable heating solutions”, such as heat pumps and biomass heaters. 

It will no longer be possible to use state funding to replace a gas boiler with another, more efficient gas boiler. 

This brings the total state aid available for replacing boilers up to €9,000. 

Who can benefit? 

The funding for boiler replacement is available through the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme – which is available to anyone who owns property in France. 

Applicants for funding do however need a French numéro fiscal (tax number) and a copy of their latest tax declaration, which means those who do not file the annual tax declaration in France are effectively excluded. 

You can only apply for funding if your property is more than two years old. 

The amount of money you could receive depends on a range of criteria including: household income; the number of people living in the household; and the location of the property. 

You can read more about the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme HERE

Why is the government doing this? 

The move essentially allows France to faire d’une pierre deux coups – hit two birds with one stone.

One one hand, it will allow the country to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in the face of the global climate crisis. 

On the other, it allows France to reduce its dependency on Russian gas – which has become a government priority ever since the invasion of Ukraine.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government would target and end to dependency on Russian energy by 2027. The construction of new nuclear plants announced in February will also assist in reaching this objective.

You can read more about the government’s measures to insulate the French economy from the war in Ukraine HERE