To reduce by 30% the carbon intensity by 2025, Air Liquide is committed to:
Increase its renewable energy purchases by nearly 70%, from 6 to 10 TWh
Improve the energy efficiency of its production units: by automating and centralizing operations, the Group can optimize the performance of its plants, and notably its energy consumption, leading to both efficiency gains and a reduction in its environmental footprint (avoiding CO2 emissions).
Reduce by 10% the carbon footprint of its products through the optimization of both production and transportation. For instance, Air Liquide aims to convert 20% of its global fleet of trucks to alternative fuels
For 2018, the carbon intensity is 4.9, which represents a 22% reduction compared to the 2015 carbon intensity (6.3) and a 74% progression toward the 2025 target (4.4).
Transportation and efficiency of truck deliveries
85% of all gas deliveries are made via pipeline or through units on customer sites. As a result, only 15% of air gases or hydrogen are transported by truck.
Moreover, thanks to the success of the delivery optimization programs, the efficiency of industrial gases transportation continues to improve. In 2018, and following the integration of Airgas into the Group’s reporting, the efficiency of our distribution decreased by 2.6% compared to 2015, but the target of a 10% improvement by 2025 is maintained.
Evolution of the distance traveled per ton of industrial gas delivered*
* In kilometers per delivered ton livrée for the Industrial Merchant activity, using a base of 100 in 2008.
** Excluding Airgas.
With its customers, the Group is also committed to a sustainable industry. Thanks to its in-depth knowledge of essential small molecules (oxygen, hydrogen, CO2...) and customers’ processes, Air Liquide is offering technologies which allow its customers to improve the energy efficiency of their industrial processes and reduce their emissions. The Group is permanently innovating to offer new low-carbon solutions. Below are four examples in this domain.
HEATOX™ is an innovative technology which makes the oxycombustion process even more efficient. It consists of extracting heat from combustion fumes in order to heat oxygen and fuel, thus improving the performance of the process by 10%. Compared to air combustion, this technology provides up to 50% energy savings and up to 50% CO2 emission reduction. Moreover, these oxycombustion technologies reduce the nitrogen oxide emissions of glass furnaces by 60% to 95%. So far, this technology has been implemented in several glass production factories in Europe owned by leaders in the sector. It is of particular interest for the Chinese market which represents about 50% of worldwide glass production. Therefore, the Group contributes to the improvement of air quality by enabling its customers in the glass industry to lower their nitrogen oxide emissions while increasing their energy efficiency.
enScribe™, the new range of advanced etching materials in Electronics, has a greenhouse effect 8 times lower than that of conventional etching gases. Its use, for a single customer, has already enabled to reduce by 1% the global emissions of the semiconductor industry.
The Cryocap™ process is a groundbreaking technological innovation which captures CO2 using a cryogenic process (very low temperatures). Cryocap™ can be used in several industries: steel production, thermal power plants, hydrogen production plants.
The partnership between Air Liquide and US start-up Solidia Technologies developed and marketed a “sustainable concrete”. The Solidia process replaces water with carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to harden concrete. This new generation of cement enables the whole industrial chain to reduce the environmental footprint of the pre-cast concrete by up to 70%. This breakthrough technology also reduces the hardening time of the concrete to less than 24 hours and the required amount of water. In addition to capturing large quantities of CO2, the quality of the concrete achieved is greatly improved. Air Liquide will supply the new carbon dioxide injection equipment for production of the Solidia Concrete™ and will be the benchmark global supplier of the gas used in the patented processes of Solidia Technologies.
Avoided CO2 emissions in 2018
Thanks to its products and its operational efficiency, Air Liquide contributed to avoid 15.5 Mt of CO2 in 2018 broken down as follows: 10.9 Mt at our customers' premises through the use of oxygen produced from air separation units and 4.6 Mt of CO2 due to the Group's operational efficiency compared to customers' self-production.
With ecosystems, via an active dialogue with key players (public policymakers, industrial partners, NGOs, etc.), Air Liquide is contributing to the development of a low carbon society by:
Developing biomethane for the industry and transport: Air Liquide operates worldwide more than 10 production plants of biomethane which can be injected into domestic grids, or distributed through its bio-NGV stations for vehicles
Proposing alternative solutions for refrigerated logistics (blueeze™, Cryocity...)
Promoting hydrogen - in particular carbon-free hydrogen - which will play a key role in the fight against climate change and the energy transition, with regards to both mobility and energy. Air Liquide has built and installed more than 120 hydrogen stations for clean transportation worldwide
Hydrogen, a clean energy
Hydrogen is one of the solutions that offer a response to the challenges of clean transportation: reducing greenhouse gases, pollution in our cities and dependency on oil-based fuels. Used in the fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water as the only by-product. Hydrogen can be produced from renewable energy sources. Hydrogen thus has great potential to provide clean energy and be an alternative to fossil fuels. Hydrogen energy is a fast-growing field of which the Group masters the entire industrial chain (from production and storage to distribution and uses for the end user) and is also actively involved in setting up this industry.
The Blue Hydrogen initiative
Blue Hydrogen is an Air Liquide initiative that aims to gradually lower the carbon content of its hydrogen production dedicated to energy applications. 95% of the hydrogen that the Group produces is currently from natural gas. Air Liquide is committing to increasing by 2020 the percentage of hydrogen produced for these applications from carbon-free processes, i.e. sources that emit no CO2. The Group’s objective is to produce at least 50% of the hydrogen required by hydrogen energy applications from carbon-free energy sources, by combining:
the reforming of biogas
the use of renewable energies in water electrolysis
the technologies to capture and re-use carbon from the CO2 emitted during the production of hydrogen from natural gas
On January 17, 2017 in Davos, Switzerland, 13 leaders from energy, transport, and industry sectors launched a global initiative in order to share their vision and ambition for hydrogen as an accelerator of the energy transition and to meet climate change targets. During this launch, the members of the Hydrogen Council, of which Air Liquide is a founding member, demonstrated their desire to intensify their investments in the development of the market of hydrogen and fuel cells. By the end of 2018, the Hydrogen Council brings together more than 50 world scale companies.
Innovate for the climate
The Group intends to dedicate around 100 million euros of its Innovation expenses every year to reduce its carbon footprint and that of its customers. In addition to Innovation expenses, cumulative capital expenditure since 2014 totaled around 300 million euros in biomethane and hydrogen mobility.
The air is a common, vital and universal good. Its quality is threatened in many parts of the world by unbalanced development, causing public health problems (heart disease, strokes, and respiratory diseases) and exacting a substantial cost, both human and financial, to society.
Air pollutants are multiple: NOx, SOx, particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), etc. The air pollution is caused in part by the burning of fossil fuels.
Air Liquide acts responsibly to preserve environment and public health, with the objective of improving air quality and fight against global warming.
Sulfur removal from hydrocarbons
The most important current use of hydrogen is the desulfurization of hydrocarbon, allowing the reduction of harmful fine particles.
In 2018, the hydrogen supplied by Air Liquide to its customers’ refineries resulted in the avoidance of 1.6 million tons of sulfur oxide emissions being discharged into the atmosphere, which is more than ten times as much as the total sulfur oxide emissions of a country like France.
Sulfur oxides can cause respiratory problems in humans. Not only are they responsible for the emergence of urban smog but also for acid rains, which cause deforestation and the acidification of water. Moreover, sulfur quickly deteriorates the performance of catalytic converters of vehicles and their capacity to filter fine particles.