Environment & Safety Gas Processing/LNG Maintenance & Reliability Petrochemicals Process Control Process Optimization Project Management Refining

Global energy giants commit to accelerated transition to low-carbon future

Story by: Tyler Campbell, Managing Editor, H2Tech

At CERAWeek by S&P Global in Houston, Texas, executives met to network and discuss strategies for scaling technologies of the future. In a panel moderated by Atul Arya, Senior Vice President and Chief Energy Strategist at S&P Global, the panelists discussed the large-scale deployment of various technologies over the next several decades, including renewables, carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), hydrogen (H2) and much more.

Joining the panel was Marco Alverà, Co-founder and CEO of Tree Energy Solutions (TES), Laura Leonard, Group President, Technology Solution for Worley and Marie-Noelle Semeria, Chief Technology Officer, TotalEnergies.

Semeria began by giving a high-level overview of TotalEnergies’ transition to low carbon. She described their strategy as two pillars: oil and gas and integrated power. To implement these pillars, they will develop and deploy low-carbon technologies to decarbonize Pillar One and grow Pillar Two. The company intends to invest $18 B globally, one-third in oil and gas and two-thirds in low-carbon technologies. She also noted the need for consistency between the different standards and regulations.

Marie-Noelle Semeria

Following Semeria, Leonard discussed the shifts required to deploy new energy at speed and scale. “When we look out into the future of what's needed to deliver the energy transition and make the ambition of net zero by 2050, or reality, we need a radical but responsible change in how we deliver projects,” Leonard said. “We (Worley) have partnered with Princeton University to publish a series of papers called From Ambition to Reality, where we outline the five shifts that are needed and how we deliver projects to make that ambition a reality, including broadening how we define value from economic to economic, social and environmental.”

Laura Lenoard

Lenoard pointed out the need to enable collaborations, lean into partnerships, standardization and using digital as an accelerant. “The scale of what we need to do is unlike anything we have seen before,” she said. “The renewable H2 ambitions in Europe are 20 MMtpy by 2030. That means that if you look at the largest green H2 project that has reached a final investment decision (FID), we need to build 500 in the next 7 yr, or 25 mega projects, while simultaneously increasing the offshore wind by a factor of four, the desalination capacity and build the capacity to bring the electrolyzers to operation.”

Marco Alverà followed up to explain his vision to transition to green energy. According to Alverà, the world is running on 23% green electrons and 77% fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas about evenly split). “We are going to get to a world where direct electrification is going to be about 50%, meaning more electric vehicles (EVs), more electric heat pumps and more electric arc furnaces,” Alverá said. “A lot of the stuff we hear about will require trillions of new grids, new batteries and new EVs, but we will still be left with 50% of the primary energy coming from fuels.”

Marco Alverà

According to Alverá, these fuels will be split equally between biofuels, fossil fuels (with CCS), and eFuels. “With today's technology, we have the cheapest solar in the world, which is $10.4/megawatt hour (MWhr)," he said. "A lot of things can be done with solar energy; it can be used, connected with subsea cables, or turned into an electrofuel (eFuel).”

Alverá claimed the eFuels market is potentially a $5 T/yr–$7 T/yr market that does not yet exist. He said the challenge is manufacturing and the need to scale up the factories. “We got solar down from $1,000 to $10 because China built six mega factories. We need to do the same for electrolyzers and everything else.” Alverá ended by pointing out that electrons are the same worldwide and can be standardized, unlike oil and gas, due to every reservoir being different.

Semeria continued the conversation by discussing TotalEnergies’ approach, highlighting sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). “We will double the production of SAF next year, targeting 1.5 MMtpy by 2030,” Semeria said. “It is a huge challenge to decarbonize aviation, so upscaling there is key; however, the issue becomes feedstock.”

Lenoard followed up on Sermeria’s point, noting that the technology to produce jet fuel from vegetable oils has been around for about 20 yr and is based on old refining technology that is redeployed into new applications. “Where we see a challenge is where we need new technologies, and they must also go through that long technology maturation process,” she said.

“The key with first-of-a-kind technology is to make sure that you isolate the risk of scaling up to the smallest part of the process possible because most new process technology will have 80% of the process by conventional unit operations and isolating that risk into the smallest part of the process is one of the ways that we can help accelerate the path.”

To address another one of the decarbonization pathways, Alverà explained the production of eFuels and how they fit into the energy mix. According to Alverà, there are only two options to move away from fossil fuels: biofuels and eFuels. “Biofuels will be limited depending on the feedstock, especially if you want to produce the right biofuels that do not compete with food. Consequently, biofuels have a constraint, and you can't use the same biofuel for shipping, aviation and heating,” Alverà said.

eFuels are made with H2 by taking an electron and splitting the water through electrolysis to produce green H2; that H2 is turned into an eFuel if not purchased directly. “The H2 can also create synthetic diesel, which means you first have to create synthetic gas, convert the gas to liquids and take the synthetic oil into a refinery to create synthetic diesel, SAF, ammonia, methanol or e-natural gas (eNG).

Alverà believes eFuels will scale up as we standardize, making them much cheaper. eFuels will be cheaper than biofuels first, and eventually, they will be cheaper than fossil fuels, according to Alverà.

Continuing the discussion on H2, Leonard expanded on standardization. Worley is putting standardization into practice by predesigning the balance of the plant so customers can execute projects faster and in a standardized way with the electrolyzer of their choice. “What that enables us to do is to create relationships and collaboration across the supply chain for green H2 plants in a way that will help drive down the cost of building those facilities and enable optimization across the entire facility,” Leonard said.

The journey towards a sustainable future is fraught with challenges, but the energy sector's unified strategy, focusing on innovation, collaboration and rapid scaling of green technologies, signals a bold step forward in the global fight against climate change.

Related News

From the Archive



{{ error }}
{{ comment.name }} • {{ comment.dateCreated | date:'short' }}
{{ comment.text }}