Strive towards Net-Zero emissions with recovery of all waste heat on Montpellier R&D site

Sanofi has implemented waste heat recovery facilities at its R&D site in Montpellier, France in partnership with Dalkia, which has reduced the site's gas consumption and associated CO2 emissions.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emission removal

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Financing low-carbon issuers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

Reduce energy consumption of the Montpellier R&D site and associated CO2 emissions by recovering various heat sources available on site.

Detailed project description

The principle of low-temperature heat recovery is one of the priority areas of Sanofi’s decarbonization approach.

This project is divided into two sub-projects:

The first project consists of setting up a low-temperature heat loop by recovering previously rejected heat. Heat recovery from two of the site’s cooling units (fridge capacity of 1.3 MW each), associated with a high efficiency heat pump (1 MW heat pump) makes it possible to increase the heat recovered (45 ° C) to then reinject it into the site’s hot water heating network (at a temperature of 70-80 ° C depending on the season).

This first project was fully funded (€ 1 million) by White certificates (CEE in France) generated by heat recovery from the chillers and was carried by Dalkia in partnership with EDF for the Whites certificates. In addition, a 15-year Energy Performance Contract (CPE in France) has been signed with Dalkia to guarantee the energy performance of the installation over time.

This waste heat recovery installation has been in service since June 2019.

Led by site Engineering & Maintenance teams, a second project was pursued, installation of a cogeneration unit (1MW) to produce both electricity and heat by the use of natural gas. The heat produced by cogeneration is sent directly to the site’s hot water heating network and the electricity produced is entirely self-consumed by the site and is exempt from transport tax. Similar to a boiler equipped with a condenser, the heat from the cogeneration (CHP) fumes is also recovered and sent to the low temperature heat loop previously installed. This project was fully financed as a third-party investment by Dalkia for an amount of € 1.4 million with a 15-year installation operating contract. This CHP has been in service since December 2019.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

Scope 1

Émissions directes générées par l’activité de l’entreprise.

Scope 2

Émissions indirectes associées à la consommation d’électricité et de chaleur de l’entreprise.

Scope 3

Émissions induites (en amont ou en aval) par les activités, produits et/ou services de l’entreprise sur sa chaine de valeur.

Absorption d’émissions

Création de puits de carbone, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Émissions évitées

par les activités, produits et/ou services de l’entreprise ou par le financement de projet de réduction d’émissions.

Scope 1 – Reduction of the use of the internal natural gas boiler and recovery of fatal heat on the cooling units

  • Quantification: 1611 tCO2

Scope 2 – Supply on external heat from CHP (including hot water)

  • Quantification: + 632 tCO2

In 2018, 14,728 MWh_hhv of natural gas were consumed, i.e. 2,725 tCO2 (considering an emission factor of 185 kgCO2 / MWh_hhv)

In 2020, 6,025 MWh_hhv were consumed, i.e. 1,114 tCO2 (with the same emission factor)

the heat purchase in 2020 represents 5017 MWh_lhv resulting in the emission of 632 tCO2 (with an emission factor of 0.126 tCO2 / MWh_hhv).

The total emission savings therefore amount to 979 tCO2

Key points

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Invested amount

0 € for Sanofi
Tiers Investment 2,4 M€

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Starting date of the project


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Project localisation

South France - Montpellier

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

The implementation of this project has resulted in a significant reduction in the use of on-site gas boilers. Therefore, the site will consider eliminating the site’s boiler room in favor of high-temperature, high-efficiency heat pumps.

Studies are underway on the subject.

This elimination of the boiler room would lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and would make it possible to contribute to SDG 7 Clean and affordable energy and SDG 13 Measures relating to the fight against climate change.

The condition for reproducibility is to have exchangers on the treatment plants sized for low temperature and the financing of the hot water network.

Through this project, several partnerships have been initiated:

● A 15-year contract of energy performance with Dalkia for heat recovery; A 15-year operation and purchase contract for heat and electricity with Dalkia for cogeneration.

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Contact the company carrying the project :

Christophe ALLIONE