Florence Delprat-JannaudResponsible for the "CO2 Capture and Storage" and "Subsoil Management for New Energy Technologies" programs at IFPEN
"To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we have no choice but to use each and every resource available to us"
To Win the Climate Battle, We Must Use Every Technical Resource Available to Us
A series of coordinated actions will be required to keep global warmingGlobal warming, also called planetary warming or climate change... below 2°C (or preferably 1.5°C) by the end of the century. Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is one possible solution. Florence Delprat-Jannaud, “Carbon Capture and Storage” Program Manager at IFPEN, offers her analysis.
What Is Carbon Neutrality?
International efforts to combat climate change will only achieve results if we effectively control greenhouse gas (ghg) Gas with physical properties that cause the Earth's atmosphere to warm up. There are a number of naturally occurring greenhouse gases... emissions from human activities, first and foremost carbon dioxide (co₂)Along with water vapor, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) in the Earth's atmosphere... emissions from industrial smokestacks and energy production. The first step is “carbon neutrality”.
But what is carbon neutrality? It means having a balance between the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere (through energy production, transportation, housing, industrial and agricultural processes, land use change, etc.) and those absorbed by the planet, particularly via carbon “sinks” (such as plants, soils and oceans).
To achieve such a balance, there are two possible – and complementary – approaches:
- Reducing emissions by limiting the use of fossil fuels while expanding that of renewable energies and by improving the energy efficiencyIn economic terms, energy efficiency refers to the efforts made to reduce the energy consumption of a system... of factories and farming.
- Increasing the absorption capacity of the planet by limiting deforestation and marine pollution or – in the future – by storing CO2 underground after human intervention.
Different Resources Available
To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we have no choice but to use each and every resource available to us. We cannot play one solution off against another or rule out one approach on the pretext that another is more effective, as that would be counterproductive to the goal of limiting global warming.
Based on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA)An independent, intergovernmental organization founded within the framework of the OECD... has defined a series of scenarios aimed at limiting global warming to 2°C, or preferably 1.5°C, by 2100, taking into account all the solutions available to us.
Under the 2°C scenario, we must be 80% of the way to carbon neutrality by 2050. Energy efficiency (using less energy in our daily lives and in industry) could provide almost 42% of the effort needed, with renewables and continued use of nuclear contributing a further 34% and 6%, respectively. CCUS could deliver a significant 7% to 10%. To limit the average increase in global temperatures to 1.5°C by 2050, the contribution of CCUS would have to increase to 32%. In any event, climate objectives are unattainable without CCUS.
CCUS is only one of the solutions available to us, but with the advantage that it can be implemented much faster than any of the others. It requires neither industrial facilities to be completely replaced nor entire energy distribution networks to be adapted. Naturally, to have an impact on the climate, we must be able to deploy CCUS on a very large scale.
Huge Carbon Capture Needs
Today, there are some 20 major-sized facilities that can store around 37 million metric tons of CO2 per year. To meet the climate objectives, we must be able to store around 5 gigatons by 2050. From 37 million to 5,000 million, we are a huge way off! Significant financing will be required to achieve the jump.
Most research currently being conducted around the world is aiming to develop more costeffective processes, especially for the capture phase, which is the most expensive and can represent up to 70% of the total cost.
Today, carbon capture concerns the biggest greenhouse gas emitters – steel and cement works and thermal powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... plants. The technology is even more complex and more expensive for small emitters, as the CO2 is more diluted in flue gases.
Securing financing for such large-scale operations is difficult, as the price per metric ton of carbon is too low to trigger a “polluter pays” mechanism. No value is given to the environmental impactAny change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from human activity... of greenhouse gas emissions and, as things stand, storing CO2 underground therefore brings no tangible benefits to those who actually take the trouble.
Furthermore, CCUS must be included in the product life cycle and assessed not only in economic terms but also based on the environmental impact of the product.
All industrial sectors therefore have a role to play and considerable innovation is required at all levels.
A graduate of École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, Florence Delprat-Jannaud is “Carbon Capture and Storage” and “Subsoil Management for New Energy Technologies” Program Manager at IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN)Formerly the Institut Français du Pétrole (French Petroleum Institute)... . Founded as the French Institute of Oil, IFPEN is a public organization with a leading role in research and training in the areas of energy, transportation and the environment.
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