Evalu (€18 million turnover in 2022, 40 employees) integrated new premises in Plérin (Côtes-d’Armor) at the end of June 2023. Now the owner, the company, which designs and produces the gas production process part of methanization units for agricultural operations, has invested 1.3 million euros in an existing building with a 600 m² workshop and as many offices. , after construction of a 300 m² extension. “We were tenants and cramped,” explains Isabelle Robin, CEO of Evalor. “We now have a technical building worthy of the name.”
The SME is moving into its new premises at a time when its activity, dependent on regulations, is picking up strongly after a dip in 2023, which should see its turnover drop to 12 million euros. “In November 2021, the regulated price of biogas fell, which led to a decline in sales of methanization units in 2022, further accentuated by the increase in the price of materials and energy,” notes the manager. “This price change also led to a lot of anticipation, with achievements quadrupling in France before November 2021.”
But other regulations have recently reversed the trend. In June 2023, an increase of almost 10 to 15% in the cost of buying back biomethane, which brought the price to a level equivalent to that of October 2021, boosted the projects. The possibility now offered to annualize production capacity has also secured business plans. At the same time, the State’s objective of reaching 20% green gas in the networks in 2030 is also promising. “The dynamic is starting again very strongly, 2024 will be strong,” rejoices Isabelle Robin, who expects a turnover of between 15 and 18 million euros in 2024.
Evalu is thus driven by this market for methanization units, in which it claims third place on the French market. Each piece of equipment, which costs on average between 3 and 4 million euros, brings in one million euros in turnover for the SME. It takes a year of studies and then construction between signing and commissioning of the equipment.
But the SME specializing in units recovering livestock effluent also benefits from the regulatory obligation to recycle, from 2024, bio-waste, coming for example from canteens or the agri-food industries. “To enable existing installations to operate with these new bio-waste, we are installing hygiene and deconditioning modules on the units,” continues the director. This regulation also allowed the development of common facilities. “Groupings between farmers have taken place to take advantage of this new deposit, particularly near food factories,” observes Isabelle Robin.
These installations and the new modules which adapt existing units are sometimes intended for the production of biomethane, vehicle fuel. “They can be made to power the farm’s vehicles and machinery, but projects are also being developed to run school buses or personal vehicles.” Finally, the CO2 produced at the same time as biogas, can be recovered, liquefied and recycled to greenhouse growers. “There is a strong evolution of existing units, depending on the external deposits offered and new outlets or valorization,” says Isabelle Robin.
Evalu is also benefiting from the growth of one of the methanization technologies, that of injection, which consists of producing biogas sent directly into the network. The other technology is that of cogeneration, which produces electricity and heat (for heating buildings or drying materials). “Injection appeared in 2018, while our first co-generation unit was commissioned in 2010,” explains the manager. “This technology now represents half of sales of new units. It benefits from recent coverage of 60% of network connection costs.”
In addition to the new installations (115 sold in total, a third of which in Brittany) and the adaptation modules, which represent 75% of Evalor’s turnover, the SME, a subsidiary of several agricultural cooperatives, first and foremost Evel’Up (Finistère), also earns revenue from equipment maintenance and technical assistance contracts. They concern methanization units but also effluent treatment stations, its primary business (it no longer builds any but still monitors 150 and ensures possible resizing).