Flickr/Alex Janssen

Stereotypes run amok in Savoie, France.

Truly, is there anything cheese cannot do? The Telegraph reports that a power plant in the southeastern French town of Albertville is now converting the delicious, creamy stuff into electricity. The station in the Savoie region uses the byproduct of the local Beaufort cheese to power its biogas plant and turn the picturesque French Alps into an even more potent fantasy land.

The power plant, which opened in October, works like this: The skimmed whey  created during the Beaufort-making process is added to a mix of bacteria. These little critters work through natural fermentation to convert the material into the mixture of methane and carbon dioxide commonly called biogas. The biogas is then heated and the steam powers turbines which, in turn, create electricity.

“Whey is our fuel,” said François Decker of Valbio, the company that designed and built the cheesy station. “It’s quite simply the same as the ingredient in natural yogurt.”

Albertville, the most delicious place on Earth. (Wikimedia Commons/Florian Pépellin)

The plant will produce about 2.8 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, which Valbio says is enough energy to power a community of about 1,500. (Note that Albertville, most famous for hosting the 1992 Winter Olympics, is home to about 19,000 people.) The energy will be sold to the French utility company EDF, one of the world’s largest electricity providers.

Lest you think any Savoie Beaufort is going to waste: Cream, the other byproduct in the food’s production, is also reused, transformed into ricotta and serac cheese, butter, and protein powder.

This is not Valbio’s first trip to the cheese-and-biogas rodeo. The firm has worked with a number of small French communities, including a frommage-making abbey, as well as producers in Canada, to create their own cheese plants.

H/t Popular Mechanics

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  2. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  3. Maggie Gyllenhaal walks the mean streets of 1971 New York City in HBO's "The Deuce," created by David Simon.

    David Simon Does Not Miss the Sleaziness

    The creator of HBO’s “The Deuce” talks about the rebirth of Times Square, other cities he loves, and why bureaucrats can be TV heroes, too.

  4. A homeless man sits along a sidewalk on East 42nd Street in the Manhattan borough of New York.

    America Can't Fix Poverty Until It Stops Hating Poor People

    A bipartisan plea to stop “othering” those living on the economic margins.

  5. Transportation

    In Copenhagen, Bike Commuting Gets a Little Less Popular

    Denmark’s capital may be a cyclists’ paradise, but recent trends show what’s really necessary to sustain a bike boom.