Engie plans to go green via biogas and renewable hydrogen
PARIS (Reuters) — French utility Engie plans to switch all of its gas operations to biogas and renewable hydrogen by 2050, making it 100% green, its chief executive said on Monday.
The power and gas group has some 70 biogas projects worldwide, including 40 in France, and says that if all its projects get approval its annual investment in biogas could soar tenfold to hundreds of millions of euros per year.
Engie, which has sold its fossil gas activities as part of a broader restructuring, is also looking to invest in industrial-scale hydrogen production by electrolyzing water in places where solar energy is cheap.
"We will progressively make our gas greener so that by 2050 it can be 100% green," Chief Executive Isabelle Kocher told reporters on Monday.
In May, Engie agreed to sell its oil and gas exploration business for $3.9 B and last month sold its gas liquefaction, shipping and trading business to Total for $1.5 B.
The sale included a deal to make Engie Total's preferred supplier of biogas and renewable hydrogen.
Kocher said the world was focused on decarbonizing electricity via renewable energy, but that electricity only accounts for a minor part of total energy demand.
"Most of the energy consumed is for heating, cooling and transport," she said. "By massively deploying green gas we could decarbonize all that."
Engie estimates that biogas from agricultural and other waste—but not using food crops—has the potential to grow from about one percent of gas consumption in France to 10% by 2025, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
France has around 400 biogas projects, but it takes too long to get them approved, usually up to two years, compared to 6 mos in neighboring countries, according to Engie's head of grids, Didier Holleaux.
Engie wants to produce hydrogen gas with solar energy by electrolyzing water at a price that would make it more competitive with steam reforming of hydrocarbons, which accounts for 95% of hydrogen produced today and costs about 2 euros per kilo, compared to 6 euros/kilo for electrolysis.
The company is looking abroad for gigawatts of solar capacity to produce hydrogen, investments that would likely require billions of euros, Holleaux said.
"In places like Chile's Atacama desert we could produce hydrogen on industrial scale and hopefully ship it abroad at a competitive price, transport included," said Kocher. She also said the company was looking to acquire start-ups in hydrogen technology, especially electrolysis.
Engie already has a significant presence in Chile, where it operates power grids, LNG facilities and renewable energy assets.
Reporting by Geert De Clercq. Editing by Jane Merriman
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At October’s HPI Forecast Breakfast for our sister publication, <i>Hydrocarbon Processing</i>, I shared <i>Gas Processing</i>’s forecast on change in the LNG industry.
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The shale gas boom established the US as the world’s leading natural gas producer and is responsible for billions of dollars of investments in the US gas processing industry. Since 2012, the US has witnessed unprecedented growth in new gas processing capacity and infrastructure. This rise is due to greater production of domestic shale gas, which is providing cheap, available feedstock to fuel the domestic gas processing, LNG and petrochemical industries. New gas processing projects include the construction of billions of cubic feet per day of new cryogenic and gas processing capacity, NGL fractionators, multi-billion-dollar pipeline infrastructure projects, and the development of millions of tons per year of new LNG export terminal construction. Attend this webcast to hear from Lee Nichols, Editor/Associate Publisher, Hydrocarbon Processing, Scott Allgood, Director-Data Services, Energy Web Atlas and Peregrine Bush, Senior Cartographic Editor, Petroleum Economist as they discuss the future of LNG and the application of Energy Web Atlas, a web-based GIS platform which allows users to track real-time information for every LNG project.
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