Sugar maker Cristal Union takes stake in TotalEnergies biogas unit

(Reuters) - French sugar maker Cristal Union will take a 10% stake in TotalEnergies's biogas unit BioNorrois due to be launched later this year, which will use sugar beet residue from one of Cristal Union's factories, the companies said.

Under the deal, Cristal Union, France's second-largest sugar maker, will supply beet pulp for 15 years to feed the biogas plant, which constitutes more than half of the 185,000 metric tons of material to be processed by the plant at its launch, they said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The remainder will be made up of agrifood waste sourced by the French energy group.

So far the pulp coming out of Cristal Union's sugar plant, located in Fontaine-le-Dun, northwestern France, has been used in animal feed, a Cristal Union spokesperson said.

BioNorrois will produce nearly 100 GWh per year at launch and reach a maximum capacity of 153 GWh per year.

The organic fertilizer obtained in addition to biogas during the process will be distributed to Cristal Union's cooperative members located nearby, they said.

Cristal Union's Fontaine-le-Dun factory processes more than 10,000 tons of sugar beet per day during each campaign, which lasts between four and five months, and produces 200,000 tons of sugar per year.

The sugar maker is not the first to send its pulp to a biogas plant. Competitor Tereos teamed up with food groups Nestle NESN.S and Bonduelle BOND.PA in 2017 to feed a biogas plant owned by Engie in Eppeville, northern France.

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