Transforming the Grandpuits refinery into a biorefinery – focus on sustainable aviation fuels

TotalEnergies is launching a project to transform its Grandpuits refinery into a biorefinery, by installing a production unit for aviation and road biofuels.

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

Transform the Grandpuits refinery by installing a biofuel production unit

The Grandpuits platform transformation project – focus on sustainable aviation biofuels:

To meet demand for sustainable aviation biofuels, TotalEnergies is initially focusing on the technological process for transforming animal fats and used cooking oils into aviation biofuel. This process, involving the production of HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids), is the only one proven on an industrial scale to date, and it is also the most economical way to produce aviation biofuels.

In fact, the production of aviation biofuels using HEFA costs 3 to 4 times more than the production of aviation fuel from fossil fuels, and with other technologies, this ratio can be as high as 4 to 6 times and 5 to 10 for E-fuels (synthetic fuels produced from decarbonized hydrogen).

The Grandpuits site has the geographical, logistical and industrial characteristics to become the Group’s first biorefinery that is predominantly focused on the production of aviation biofuels:

  • Grandpuits is located near the airports in Paris and is linked by rail and then by pipeline to these airports;
  • Grandpuits has industrial units that can be reused for the selected hydrogenation process.

Context:

Biofuels represent a key element of TotalEnergies’ strategy to meet the challenge of carbon neutrality. Transport generates more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this growing sector remains largely dependent on liquid fuels.

Today, biofuels are the best renewable alternative for producing liquid fuels, whether for road or air transport: they are essential for limiting the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Biofuels are a renewable energy source which have a direct role to play in the fight against climate change, guaranteeing a 50% to 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventional fuels.

TotalEnergies plans to advance the development of a French production chain for sustainable aviation biofuels, an immediate alternative to liquid fossil fuels, in order to reduce the air transport sector’s carbon footprint.

In Europe and globally, more and more objectives are being set to reduce CO2 emissions generated by the aviation sector. The voluntary target proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization to reduce the sector’s overall emissions by 50% by 2050, requires a 90% reduction in the average emissions per passenger/km by 2050.

In January 2020, the French government published a roadmap, with a biofuel incorporation target of 2% by 2025 and 5% by 2030, as well as a call for expressions of interest for production projects located in France. This roadmap was formalized in September 2020 in the 2021 Finance Bill, which set an obligation to incorporate 1% of biofuels into the volumes released for consumption in mainland France, from 2022 onwards.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

  • Emission scopes
  • Description and quantification of associated GHG emissions
  • Clarification on the calculation

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 1 - Decarbonization of energy and inputs energy efficiency  

  • Quantification: The site's Scope 1 emissions amounted to 0.5 MT CO2eq/year in 2020.
  • Scope 1 emissions are estimated at 0.1 MT CO2eq/yearwhen the new biofuel production operations start.

Scope 2 - Procurement and production of decarbonized electricity 

  • Quantification :  - 5 KT/year of CO2eq per year

Scope 3 - Decarbonization of aviation and road fuels

  • Quantification : - 0.5 MT/year of CO2

The Grandpuits refinery will produce 170,000 tons of aviation biofuel and 120,000 tons of road biofuel. We have applied a conservative emission factor for these biofuels of 50% of their fossil alternatives (i.e. 1.59 tCO2/t).

Standard aviation and road fuels have an emission factor of around 3.18 tCO2/t.

All other things being equal, this means a gain in CO2 emissions of 460 ktCO2, of which 270 ktCO2 are linked to aviation fuel and 190 ktCO2 to road fuel (170+120 kt x 1.59 tCO2/t).

Key points

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Invested amount

500 M€

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Starting date of the project

Q3 2024 (announced in September 2020)

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Project localisation

Grandpuits, Seine et Marne

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

TotalEnergies is committed to working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure a brighter and more sustainable future for all. For this reason, the Group is constructing a sustainable development approach based on four pillars: integrating climate change into its business strategy, preserving the environment, respecting and mobilizing employees and suppliers, and contributing to the economic development of the regions where it operates.

To this end, the Grandpuits project, because of its co-benefits, will help to achieve 4 of the SDGs and to meet specific targets:

  • SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy
    • The project will advance the development of new sustainable fuel technologies, including aviation biofuels.
    • The overall project will also advance the development of renewable energy (2 solar photovoltaic plants)
  • SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
    • The project will achieve this through the injection of investment to modernize infrastructure and through R&D and innovation initiatives for the development of more sustainable products.
  • SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
    • The reuse of materials (animal fats and used cooking oils for biofuels, recycling of plastics) contributes to the development of the circular economy, and promotes a more rational use of natural resources and waste recovery.
  • SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
    • Integration of this program into the 2050 net-zero emissions target, together with society, supports this SDG.

By 2024, the Grandpuits site will have the capacity to produce 170kt of aviation biofuels, i.e. about 2% of the French aviation fossil fuel market in 2019, which accounted for more than 8 million tons. This project has significant potential and presents opportunities for replicability due to the volume of aviation fuels to be “decarbonized”.

The production of aviation biofuels will be developed on condition that national and European legislation is adapted both in terms of demand (mandates, incentive mechanisms, etc.) and in terms of supply (including the conditions of access to raw materials and sectoral development, particularly for raw materials derived from the circular economy). An incentive mechanism for the incorporation of aviation biofuels must be established at French national level to ensure that such a project is successful.

This project is in keeping with the public/private “Commitment to Green Growth”  partnership initiative launched by the government in 2018, to develop a biofuel industry for air transport, bringing together the various French links in the chain to be constructed (Air France, Airbus, Safran, Suez and TotalEnergies), as well as the DGAC (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile – French Civil Aviation Authority) and the DGEC (Direction Générale de l’Énergie et du Climat – Directorate General for Energy and Climate).

The complementary partnerships entered into for the Grandpuits project concern the securing of supply chains for sustainable raw materials from the circular economy, such as used cooking oil and waste fats from European slaughterhouses.

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Contact the company carrying the project :

rc.rgp-communication@total.com

Total’s other projects :