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Engie plans to go green via biogas and renewable hydrogen

Power News - Published on Thu, 07 Dec 2017

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Reuters reported that French utility Engie plans to switch all of its gas operations to biogas and renewable hydrogen by 2050, making it 100 percent green. 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 electrolysing water in places where solar energy is cheap.

Ms Isabelle Kocher CEO told reporters that “We will progressively make our gas greener so that by 2050 it can be 100 percent green.”

In May, Engie agreed to sell its oil and gas exploration business for USD 3.9 billion and last month sold its gas liquefaction, shipping and trading business to Total for USD 1.5 billion.

The sale included a deal to make Engie Total's preferred supplier of biogas and renewable hydrogen.

Ms Kocher said the world was focused on decarbonising electricity via renewable energy, but that electricity only accounts for a minor part of total energy demand. She said that "Most of the energy consumed is for heating, cooling and transport. By massively deploying green gas we could decarbonise 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 percent by 2025, 30 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

According to Engie's head of grids, Mr Didier Holleaux, France has around 400 biogas projects, but it takes too long to get them approved, usually up to two years, compared to six months in neighbouring countries.

Engie wants to produce hydrogen gas with solar energy by electrolysing water at a price that would make it more competitive with steam reforming of hydrocarbons, which accounts for 95 percent of hydrogen produced today and costs about 2 euros per kilo, compared to 6 euros/kilo for electrolysis.

Mr Holleaux said that the company is looking abroad for gigawatts of solar capacity to produce hydrogen, investments that would likely require billions of euros.

Ms Kocher said that "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.” 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.

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Posted By : Nanda Koijam on Thu, 07 Dec 2017
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