Carbon storage is a key factor to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the 21st century. We are developing businesses with a focus on preserving and restoring ecosystems that act as carbon sinks (i.e., that can absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide) and on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology. We’re also helping customers improve their energy efficiency by offering products and services designed to reduce their carbon footprint.
Preserving and restoring ecosystems
Ecosystems, especially forests, store carbon naturally. Preserving them and restoring their role as carbon sinks is, in fact, crucial in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal is to reach sustainable carbon storage capacity of 5 million tons per year by 2030.
To meet that challenge, in 2019 we created Total Nature Based Solutions. That new unit, wielding a budget of $100 million, is tasked with funding, developing and managing projects in carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
At the same time, the Total Foundation, spearheaded chiefly by the Total Corporate Foundation, has made forest preservation and restoration a key focus of its program. It is supporting projects to preserve and restore forests, mangroves and wetlands, which store carbon naturally, as well as initiatives to rehabilitate degraded land. It’s also supporting initiatives to raise awareness and teach young people to preserve carbon sink ecosystems.
Using ccus to make industry less carbon intensive
CCUS technologies will be essential for numerous industries, particularly those that generate large volumes of carbon dioxide. We allocate 10% of our R&D budget and apply our expertise at every step in the CCUS process to make carbon reduction technologies more energy-efficient.
We are pioneers in this field, having begun developing CCUS technologies back in 1996 as a partner in the Sleipner project, a Norwegian carbon capture platform. We also developed the pilot CO2 capture and storage project in France’s Lacq region. Started in 2010, that pilot was a European first that enabled us to test a complete carbon capture, transportation and storage chain at one of our sites.
Alone or with partners, we have contributed to several projects that already constitute significant advances:
- The Northern Lights project, in which we have joined forces with Shell and Equinor with the aim of spurring development of new carbon capture solutions in Norway and elsewhere in Europe. This commercial-scale project focuses on transporting and storing carbon emissions produced by cement factories and aims to create 1.5 million tons of carbon storage capacity per year. It has the potential for future expansion to other industries, which would make it the world’s first storage site to take delivery of carbon from industry sources in several countries.
- The Net Zero Teesside Project, of which we are a partner alongside the OGCI and other oil majors, including BP, Eni, Equinor, Occidental Petroleum and Shell. It’s the first commercial-scale, fully integrated CCUS project in the United Kingdom. It was one of the earliest picks of OGCI Climate Investments, which funds technologies that significantly cut emissions. Launched in 2017, the organization is resourced at over $1 billion for 10 years.
We also formed several major R&D partnerships in 2019 to encourage deployment of CCUS technology:
- In the United States, we joined the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC), which works to develop carbon capture technology for reducing emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants.
- In France, we have launched a major CCUS project in Dunkirk that could accommodate up to 10 million tons of CO2 annually by 2035.
- At our Leuna refinery in Germany, we’re helping to devise techniques for producing methanol from CO2 and hydrogen.
Energy efficiency for our customers
Around 85% of oil- and gas-related greenhouse gases are emitted during the end use of products and automotive and other fuels, compared to just 15% during their production. So helping our customers shrink their carbon footprint — and lower their energy bill while they’re at it — is a key focus. We do that through:
- Energy performance consulting. We offer customers an end-to-end approach to energy efficiency via our affiliate GreenFlex, a French specialist that helps businesses transition to new energies and improve their environmental performance. Our teams create workable, sustainable solutions combining consulting, personal support, data intelligence and financing to achieve concrete, lasting outcomes.
- Our Total Ecosolutions program. Created in 2009, this label alerts our customers to the energy and eco-efficiency of our products and services. At end-2019, 95 of our products and services had been awarded the Total Ecosolutions label for their ability to significantly outperform the market standard across their life cycle.
- The development of high-performance plastics. Our affiliate Hutchinson, which specializes in elastomer processing, produces parts that are used in the automotive and aviation industries. Those parts are lighter in weight, so they help reduce fuel consumption and, by extension, carbon emissions. It’s one way that Total is contributing to sustainable mobility.
- The use of recycled plastics and bioplastics. Our polypropylene and polyethylene grades contain at least 50% recycled materials and offer the same properties as virgin polymers. We have teamed up with Citeo, Saint-Gobain and Syndifrais to help create a polystyrene recycling channel. In addition, as part of our joint venture with Corbion, we started up a polylactic acid (PLA) plant in Thailand in late 2018 that offers annual production capacity of 75,000 tons. PLA is a recyclable, biodegradable biopolymer derived from sugar that can be used in various types of packaging.