Paris - Photo credit, Bogitw & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the thirty-first edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
France ranks tenth highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for 2016. Improvements in the ‘Air Quality’ and ‘Agriculture’ sub-category scores helped contribute to the nation’s climb up the ranking scale from 27th position in the previous ranking in 2014. 2014 was the only time France placed outside the top 10 in this biennial index since its inception in 2006.
Paris Agreement Targets
COP21 took place in Paris in December 2015 and during the conference, the ‘Paris Climate Accord’ or ‘Paris Agreement’ was negotiated and agreed upon by the participating countries.
France takes its individual country commitments towards meeting the Paris agreement extremely seriously. Along with Germany and Sweden, France is one of three EU countries expected to meet its Paris Agreement targets according to an ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’developed by ‘Carbon Market Watch’ and ‘Transport & Environment’.
France plans to surpass its country target of 37% emissions reduction by 2030 and is committed to longer-term targets also. In July 2017, France’s Environment Minister, Nicolas Hulot announced that the country will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
According to statistics from RTE France, France’s transmission system operator, 76% of electricity generated in France in 2015 was sourced from Nuclear fuel. Hydro and fossil fuels accounted for the majority of the remaining 24%, with 11% and 6% respectively. Electricity generated from solar energy and bio-energy only accounted for 1% each of the total figure. Looking back at 2014 and 2013 figures, the split by fuel type is similar, nuclear was the dominant contributor, followed by hydro and fossil fuels, with solar and bio-energy barely making an impact.
GE and EDF
French utility giant EDF is building a gas-fired power plant in Bouchain, France using GE’s 9HA.01 combined-cycle gas turbine. The plant has a record-breaking 62.2% combined cycle efficiency rate at full load compared with 42 – 45% efficiency for a coal-fired plant that has been retrofitted with modern technology.The plant has the capacity to power over 680,000 homes.
The plant can be fully operational in less than 30 minutes from a cold start compared with a minimum of two hours and up to 12 hours for a coal-fired plant. This is important because the plant can respond to dips in electricity supply to the grid from solar/wind energy and satisfy the electricity demand, thus ensuring a more consistent supply of electricity to the grid.
Total – The Lacq CCS Pilot Project
Total established a CCUS pilot project at the Lacq industrial complex, in the French Pyrenees. The pilot was developed by retrofitting an air boiler with an oxy-combustion boiler. The oxy-combustion boiler replaces air with pure oxygen so that the exhaust gases contain a concentrated stream of CO2, making capture feasible.
The captured CO2 was transported 30 km off-site to the Rousse natural gas field where it was injected 4.5km beneath the surface. The last injection of CO2 took place in 2013. Since then the site and area have been monitored to ensure that no leaks of CO2 have occurred.
France is over-reliant on nuclear energy as a source of electricity generation. However, any plans to replace nuclear fuel with wind or gas energy are not straightforward. Its rainbow government of ministers representing multiple political ideologies makes it difficult for President Macron to implement his predecessor’s policy to reduce electricity generation from nuclear to 50%.
Nuclear itself is a low carbon fuel, wind energy requires backup supply sources and switching to gas would result in a requirement to import from Russia or the Middle-East. The retrofitting of fossil fuel powered plants with cleaner technologies provides France with additional options to work with.
Thanks to Douglas Alexander Williamson for the review comments.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and converting it into Polymers.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 30 Malta: the Italian interconnector job.
Week 29 Liquid Fuels: converting waste into energy.
Week 28 Estonia: how restoring bogs is helping reduce emissions