|ACP Energies attendance to the 1st edition of the GOPC conference (Ghana Oil & Power Conference) for a panel discussion in digital format on November 30, 2022 on the topic :
“DECARBONIZATION: LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY FOR THE ENERGY TRANSITION”
with the aim of identifying areas of collaboration and synergies in knowledge sharing, capacity building and best practices between European and Ghanaian companies.
Link to Ghana’s videos :
- Initiate dialogue on the 2021 and 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conferences (COP 26 & 27) and take-aways for the African continent
- Lessons on energy decarbonisation and decarbonisation strategies and technologies and how they can be implemented on the continent
- Identify key decarbonization technologies that can assist companies in the oil and gas and energy sectors reduce their carbon footprint
- Investment in low-carbon infrastructure? and new technologies in nuclear, hydro, geothermal, solar, solar PV, wind and tide.
- Develop B2B and B2G partnerships based on local content requirements
Areas of discussion:
- Rationale and need for sub-Saharan Africa to decarbonize and maintain sustainable energy sources (reducing carbon footprint and meeting emissions targets)
- COP 26: African states transitioning away from fossil fuels and promote the development of less carbon-intensive economies (adaptation, mitigation and economic development)
- Decarbonisation strategies for Western multinationals in the oil and gas and energy sectors (accelerating the shift to renewables, developing new product offerings, re-locating facilities, investing in carbon capture and optimizing tax credits)
- Decarbonisation energy systems
- Decarbonization technologies (alternative energy sources, post-carbon solutions, carbon value chain, carbon commoditization for carbon capture, short and long term energy renewable storage, efficiency in solar panel technology, wave and tidal power)
- Investment in low-carbon infrastructure, hydro-renewables
Moderator: Ransford Ani-Adjei, Technip FMC/Sciences Po
- Malika El Assili, Energy Decarbonation Facilitator ACP Energies
- Patrick Portolano, Founding Director of Eosys
- Jean-Louis Gaillard, Vice-President ACP Energies
- Pascal Rey, Chief Executive Officer, Insuco
- Frédéric Cheve, Subsidiary Manager for Ethiopia, Nigeria and Niger, Vergnet
Extract from the ACP Energies presentation:
As it’s difficult to deal with decarbonisation in a short time, ACP Energies chose to focus on 3 main areas of action:
– reduction of flared gas
– CCS technology
Ø Reduction of flared gas
In the hydrocarbon industry, flaring is a sensitive environmental practice mainly related to the lack of processing, storage and transport infrastructure for the commercialization of gas associated with oil extraction. If the gas is released into the atmosphere without being burned (venting), it is the worst solution because methane has a much greater greenhouse effect than CO2 while burning it emits CO2 and water (and limits the risk of explosion because of its flammability) but contributes to the increase in GHGs.
In the absence of commercialization of the associated gas, it can be reinjected into the reservoir to increase the pressure and improve the recovery rate (but with risks of impact on the integrity of the reservoir), and it can also be used to drive an electric turbine and partially meet the energy needs of the production site and/or provide energy to local communities that do not have access to the electricity grid.
Several countries, particularly in Africa, are on a “zero routine flaring” trajectory, such as Nigeria, which has launched an innovative program in this way and has decided to transform associated gas into other products (electricity, petrochemicals, fertilizers) to meet unmet demand.
Proposal of feasibility and economic studies by ACP Energies:
- collect of information on oil fields and wells (production data and associated gas, reserve estimates and forecasts of future production, existence of plans to reduce gas flaring and gas use) and assessment of potential medium- to long-term needs that could use the gas produced
- field-by-field studies with prospective analysis of local or regional gas needs for the various existing or possible uses of gas
- possible uses of gas nearby (electricity production, supply of local industrial sites, gas reinjection, on-site conversion of gas – e.g. methanol, fertilizer, GTL, LNG) and after direct transport by pipelines (export + local)
Ø CCS Technologies :
Another decarbonization pathway is that of Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS) technologies.
Here is an overview of CCS projects around the world with a focus on 2 ongoing projects in Africa (South Africa and Nigeria).
These 2 pilot projects currently consist of an assessment of storage capacities (reservoir characterization) and capture costs which are the highest (around 80% of investment expenditure). They also include a mapping of CO2 emission points allowing an optimization of transport infrastructure to sequestration sites through techno-economic, legal-regulatory studies and stakeholder engagement.
With the same approach, Ghana could identify the potential for CCS deployment from various scenarios including agreements and connections to hubs with its neighboring countries. ACP Energies can offer the support of opportunity studies for these developments and facilitate the adoption of solutions.
Areas of study in the renewables sector (especially biomass):
In this sector, there are also many things to say and do, especially around biomass, bioenergy and a circular economy. Remember that biomass contains carbon and hydrogen and its 4 main uses are food, materials, energy and preservation of biodiversity. It is the 1st source of renewable energy in the world with the advantage of not being intermittent (like solar or wind). However, it is no longer a carbon-neutral solution if its use is associated with deforestation.
Therefore, the idea would be to take advantage of waste such as agricultural and other residues (e.g. forestry, sewage, manure) to produce renewable gases, biofuels, electricity or heat. Usually, agricultural waste is either burned or landfilled where it rots by releasing CO2 into the air. In Cameroon, for example, coffee pods are used to produce a natural fertilizer (biochar) recognized as a sequestration solution with negative emissions and a positive impact on the environment and local communities (heat from the process can also be valued by producing electricity, for example).
Beyond this conference, it would be interesting for Ghana to launch a scoping study with assessment of GHG emissions and energy consumption (including life cycle assessments) based on the identification of local industries and extending it to other sources of carbon-free energy.
In summary: to conclude on decarbonization strategies, 2 scenarios are available to Ghana:
Ø one based on fossil fuels with the development of oil & gas fields associated with a CCS hub strategy
Ø the other on renewable energies promoting territorial production with the development of solar, offshore wind, biofuels for mobility and biochar for fertilization.
Fossil based scenario: Indeed, Ghana’s sedimentary basins are still largely underexplored and a multitude of opportunities exist for geological carbon sequestration in oil & gas fields (e.g. enhanced oil recovery, depleted deposits) and saline aquifers.
Renewable based scenario :
– Biomass: Regarding 2019 data, Ghana’s bioenergy potential is estimated to be more than 3 times that of primary energy supply.
– Offshore wind: Southeast Ghana offers development potential for electricity and green hydrogen.
– Solar: Ghana has sunshine giving it the potential for local development to meet domestic needs.
ACP Energy hopes this information will help Ghana to transit and develop a low-carbon economy that could pave the way for other projects in Africa.
Questions & Answers / CCS & H2 (Malika Elassili & Patrick Portolano) :
Q1: How crucial would you say new technological applications such as carbon capture & storage, are to global decarbonization and the energy transition ? Do you think a technological application like CCUS is commercially feasible, and how soon do you forsee it contributing significantly to global emissions reduction ?
CCS is crucial to decarbonize fossil fuel and cement productions :
- based on ecological principles, each ton of fossil carbon extracted with fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) or to fabricate cement from limestone ends up in the biosphere : about half of it increases the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and about half of it increases ocean acidification. To stop this each ton of fossil carbon injected into the biosphere must be compensated by another ton of carbon geologically sequestered. CCS is today the main industrial way to do this at the required scale.
- There are other ways to do it but they still need to prove that they can be used at the scale needed.
- Biosequestration (ie carbon capture by plants, soils, bugs, microbes) is a temporary way to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, but only a small portion of carbon will end as geologically sequestered and most of it will be released back in the atmosphere in timespan comprised between seasons to centuries.
CCS is crucial to energy transition
- biofuel production, especially biomethane and bioethanol, is accompanied by CO2 production and accidental CH4 releases : the acceptance of these bioenergies will be increased if CCS is made along their production. This is facilitated by the fact that carbon capture is easier than in post-combustion processes used by fossil-fuel powered electricity power plants.
- used in this context, the atmospheric carbon absorbed by plants becomes geologically sequestered
CCUS is commercially feasible and can contribute significantly to global emission reduction as soon as a fossil fuel supplier and a fossil fuel end user find a way by which carbon will be captured and sequestered. This may be done in 3 ways :
- at the producer end : for example producing blue H2 at wellhead or hydrocarbon gathering facilities, and sequestering CO2 from there and exporting H2 (or NH3, or other H2 carrier) to the consumer
- at the consumer end : for example capturing CO2 while producing heat & electricity and sequestering it on site, sending it back to the producer who would sequester it or finding a service company that would do it.
- relying on financial markets that would penalize producers and/or consumers with carbon prices : the last 20 years have demonstrated that this not the best way to proceed, as carbon prices and compensation did not have any affect so far on climate warming, nor on GES emissions.
Q2 : One of the areas of very high interest / discussion in the renewable energy sector in recent times is hydrogen, yet, it is still a very expensive fuel. In your view, does hydrogen play any special role or does it fill any gaps in global decarbonization efforts or can it be substituted by other renewable energy forms.
- hydrogen is central to the energy transition because it can be used efficiently with zero emissions to produce heat, electricity or be chemically combined with other elements without carbon emissions in heavy industries such as metallurgy, iron or fertilizer production, chemical industries etc…
- hydrogen can be produced cheaply from biological matter (bio-hydrogen) and from coal, oil and gas (grey hydrogen).
- taking into account the requirement for CCS both bio and fossil hydrogen remains affordable.
- hydrogen produced from electrolysis is significantly more expensive to produce as splitting hydrogen from water requires 5 to 7 times more energy than splitting it from the carbon of organic matter or fossil fuels
- cheap hydrogen may also be obtained from underground sources as native hydrogen or from geo-reactors where hydrogen bearing fluids or minerals reacts within specific formations underground. Yet this is still an R&D area : Ghana’s Authorities may obtain more information on this by contacting EOSYS, an ACP Energy member.
- the main issue yet is to transfer the produced hydrogen to the end user : if the end user is not on the site of production, conditioning it for transport and delivery is usually what makes the breakeven between economic and non-economic conditions
- a disturbing fact to many actors is that the cheapest and most convenient way to transport and to deliver hydrogen to the end user is to combine it to …carbon ! This is why CCS must be intimately linked to hydrogen production in any sound energy system.
More on this : contact Patrick Portolano / EOSYS