Alternative Energy, what we are doing and what we hope to achieve
For Total, meeting energy demand in the decades ahead also means stepping up our capital investment in sectors expected to complement oil and gas and promoting cost-effective, environmentally efficient alternatives.
The twin challenge of growing demand and climate change
Global demand for energy, a vital commodity essential to the development of communities, will continue to climb in the decades ahead. All long-range scenarios for 2020-2030 agree on this point.
How do we satisfy demand while making sure that every collective decision also integrates ways of tackling climate change? Total does not think there is a single solution to this now core issue. What is most important today is enhancing energy efficiency and using less, wherever we can. We are doing our part by upgrading our own facilities and helping our customers conserve energy.
Shaping tomorrow’s energy landscape
Oil and gas will remain central to our operations for many years to come. However, our involvement in renewable and other alternative energies that are virtually or completely greenhouse gas-neutral is not a recent development. To give just two examples, we have been active in photovoltaic solar energy since 1983 and in biofuels since 1992.
Now we want to step up our efforts to promote the emergence of a more innovative, diversified, sustainable energy supply, provide an incubator for new solutions, and bring them to maturity more quickly.This commitment is reflected in our R&D priorities and spending, which has been boosted, and in a stronger emphasis on partnerships leading to long and very long-term investment projects.
Four strategic priorities
As a responsible industrial operator, we must be careful not to spread ourselves too thin. That is why our priority as an investor, often working closely with other major stakeholders, is on four promising areas in which we can play a significant role and where the range and synergy of our capabilities can make a difference for the community.
We are leveraging recognized expertise to apply our financial, management and innovation capabilities and our knowledge of global marketplaces to the booming solar — especially photovoltaic solar — energy field.
We are actively working to develop second-generation bioenergies and biomass, so that we can identify and select the most financially, socially and environmentally appropriate options.
The nuclear power industry also has significant growth potential. Although Total is a newcomer to the field, we plan to acquire the skills and expertise that will eventually allow us to operate plants in line with the expectations and concerns of all stakeholders. We have a number of assets we can build on to gradually become a major nuclear operator.
However, the Group is closely monitoring the impact that the serious situation in Japan may have on the development of certain nuclear projects worldwide.
With extensive knowledge of the sector and strong involvement in developing carbon capture and storage techniques, we aim to help make clean coal a reality in the years ahead.
Our clearly stated choices are guided by three main criteria: the fight against climate change, the inherent return on investment of the operations in question, and how closely they align with our existing skills and expertise in terms of processes, market knowledge and management of large-scale projects.
Expanding the realm of possibilities
At the same time, we are continuing to explore other promising avenues and new energy carriers. Examples include hydrogen fuel cells and their various applications; methanol, which is usable in a number of forms; and dimethyl ether (DME), a clean, versatile molecule that can be used as an automotive or other fuel, a petrochemical feedstock or a fuel for power plants.
We are also closely monitoring the power generation possibilities of marine energy derived from swells, waves, currents and tides. We are partnering two trials, in Scotland and Spain, of two distinct technological concepts, each with the potential to be implemented on a larger scale.
The Total-Amyris partnership in biotech
Solar energy: promoting photovoltaic solar energy