Launch of the Gaya project
The R&D platform is located at the heart of Lyon’s Chemical Valley, which is the cradle of the French chemical industries and accounts for 25% of national R&D. It is one of the leading European chemical and energy hubs. The aim of this decision is to attract new R&D centers, and to maintain production units in France.
The platform Gaya Pilote is currently under construction at Saint-Fons site (south of Lyon) on land that currently belongs to the Grand Lyon Urban District (and formerly belonged to Rhodia). ENGIE is renting the premises for a period of nine years as from 2013.
The platform is the only one of its kind in the world. It will enable all the stages to be trialed, from the supply of biomass to the production of biomethane from dry biomass-to-gas. The purpose of the platform is to validate the technological and economical solutions of the future business model. Regardless of whether they are from a financial, environmental or experimental standpoint, the technological improvements to the platform will create additional value-added for the tests conducted on the process.
As the aim of the Gaya Platform is to test the processes, their reliability, to optimize them and to make them profitable, there is no commercial goal at this stage. This is the reason for talking about a semi-industrial platform. Gaya is a pilot that will be used as a model for future construction projects, the end-purpose of which will then be to produce and market biomethane from dry biomass-to-gas.
In fact, the platform brings together pilot pre-industrial tools from right across the technical chain, which will enable the technical and financial feasibility of the sector to be demonstrated, and to roll it out on an industrial scale by 2020. It will be operated by a ENGIE team, and will be organized on the basis of planned experiments, which will enable innovative technological and pre-industrial concepts to be validated.
Accordingly, the experiments that will be conducted on the Gaya Platform will aim to increase the availability and the effectiveness of the process, which is already high, to fine-tune its operation in order to lower production costs, and to increase the range of accessible biomass, while improving the sector’s environmental benefits.
The results of the experiments will be assessed in technical and environmental terms (energy reports and life-cycle analysis).
The construction of the platform addresses the challenges of energy transition by creating an energy-positive administrative centre drawing on innovative energy management technologies.
The administrative centre of the Gaya platform is designed to be energy positive.
A number of design features enable the building to produce more energy than it consumes: high levels of insulation (external wall insulation, eliminating thermal bridges and of adequate thickness), glazing with timber frames, airtightness, rationalised, intelligent heating and, lastly, energy generation to cover the limited remaining consumption. Energy is produced by photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof in the form of sun-shades all along the building’s southern facade.
The platform uses innovative Ubiant technology for intelligent management of technical interfaces: the building is fitted with connected objects which enable the real-time management and balancing of user comfort and energy efficiency. In particular the system manages lighting and temperature by detecting the presence and requirements of users, provides dynamic energy consumption data for occupants (via a smartphone app) and uses a system of coloured lights to indicate levels of energy use and air pollution. Ubiant technology received the 2016 CES Innovation Award in Las Vegas in the “Tech for a Better World” category.
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