Schneider Electric target reducing upstream carbon emissions through digitisation

LafargeNewly appointed president of oil and gas at Schneider Electric, Astrid Poupart-Lafarge, chatted with Oil Review Middle East to explain how the company is supporting energy producers and consumers to reduce carbon emissions through digitisation and new technologies, and unveils her personal ambitions stepping into this new role

Poupart-Lafarge began by explaining that the fight against climate change was central to Schneider Electric’s business model, with their continued relentless drive to reduce global emissions landing them the top spot in Corporate Knights’ ‘Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world’. Poupart-Lafarge commented, “Schneider Electric is in the top spot because of our strong performance around the sustainability criteria. The company earns 70% of its revenue from sustainable solutions and 73% of our investment is directed to sustainable solutions. We also performed strongly in regards to racial and gender diversity and resource productivity and safety.”

“We act for a climate positive world and we continuously invest and develop innovative solutions that deliver immediate and lasting decarbonisation. By 2025 we aim to achieve 80% green revenues, save and avoid 800mn tonnes of CO2 emissions for customers (since 2018), and help reduce CO2 emissions by 50% for our 1000 top suppliers.”

Reducing carbon emissions upstream

Poupart-Lafarge continued by discussing Schneider Electric’s ‘Net Zero Upstream’ facility study, which suggested that for a minimal total expenditure increase of 2%, the solution operational emissions of oil and gas operators could be reduced by a staggering 76%, with embedded carbon emissions dropping by a potential 17%. She said, “This study was result of collaboration to advance research and design of carbon neutral facilities for the upstream oil and natural gas market. It applies a number of decarbonisation measures to achieve carbon neutrality including; power import and electrification; renewable microgrids; integration with hydrogen networks; integrating energy storage; reduction of fugitive emissions; removal of flare systems; facility de-manning and access method; facility monitoring and controls for remote operations; and engineered offsetting methods, excluding what we call nature-based offsetting; and, last but not least, digital transformation in design and operations.”

Expanding on digitisation, Poupart-Lafarge added, “Over the last year the pandemic has definitely accelerated digitisation across industries. In oil and gas specifically there are opportunities for digitisation to drive benefits for sustainability and for the bottom line. The reality is that around 15% of total CO2 emissions on a litre of gasoline used in our car is emitted during the manufacturing process itself. We wanted to change that and make energy intensive manufacturing more sustainable.”

Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure platform

“Our goal is to provide tangible solutions that help companies reach their sustainability goals and also deliver profitability, and this is what we do with EcoStruxure Power and Process. Designed in collaboration with AVEVA for energy intensive industries, EcoStruxure connects power and process information across the whole life cycle of a plant delivering up to 20% electrical instrumentation and control CapEx reduction, 15% unplanned downtime reduction, 10% process energy usage improvement, and 3% points profitability improvement.”

“An example is a medium to large oil refinery producing 450,000 barrels per day can expect to reduce its CO2 output by almost 570,000 metric tonnes and save US$210mn a year. As you can see there are clear sustainability and financial benefits.”

Power to the consumer

Turning to energy consumption, Poupart-Lafarge pointed out that an increasing proportion of energy consumers want to see net zero within their life time, but they do not know how to make their lives more sustainable without dramatically impacting their lifestyle at the same time. She stated, “There are two parts to the consumer’s empowerment story when it comes to tackling climate change. One is putting an element of energy generation back into the hands of the home owner through the power of digital, electrification and modern AI-based analytics linking rooftop solar panels, ground source heat pumps and battery storage in order to decarbonise their energy use. The other side of the net zero coin is to make it clear to consumers where and when energy is being used at an appliance to appliance level. This is where digital retrofits of homes are becoming increasingly important by making energy consumption and energy waste visible through the power of technology.”

Achieving net zero

In the words of Schneider Electric’s CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, to achieve net zero “all you need is a change in mentality” as the technologies already exist. Outlining the two competing objectives which she believed were essential for net zero, Poupart-Lafarge said, “The first is that everybody gets access to energy because energy gives you access to a decent life. But at the same time we need to reduce emissions by a factor of two in the next 20 years.”

“Digital is a fantastic catalyst because it is the only thing that disrupts the equation of energy efficiency. It helps us manage, distribute and store energy and it makes energy waste visible. Individual companies are now able to generate and manage green solar energy through solar and microgrids and this will change the energy and sustainability equations. Many governments and companies are committed to net zero by 2050 or even before but it is up to companies like Schneider Electric to help individual companies and governments achieve these sustainability goals through technology.”

The renewal of green targets was a surprise to many as net zero ambitions were expected to be set aside against the need to recover from 2020. Reflecting on the year Poupart-Lafarge commented, “After rising steadily for decades global greenhouse emissions fell by 6.4% in 2020, according to new data on fossil fuels emissions. The decline is very significant and in ten years time one positive thing I think we will say is that it was in this year that the concept of net zero became a mainstream activity that reshaped the economy. The shift that has made this sustainable solution possible is the rapid acceleration of digital. When you consider that 80% of all carbon emissions are due to energy consumption and 60% of the way we manage energy is inefficient the scale of the task of changing the way we create, manage and use energy to reach net zero is significant but so are the potential benefits.”

Poupart-Lafarge's personal ambitions

Finally, Poupart-Lafarge focused on her new position as president of oil and gas, and concluded, “My responsibility in this new role is to lead the business that Schneider Electric does in the oil and gas and petrochemical market. My goal is to bring together all of our capabilities from energy management, automation and all digital portfolio for efficiency and sustainability. I will focus largely on partnerships with our stakeholders in the oil and gas markets.”

“At Schneider Electric our purpose is to empower all to make the most of energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all, which we call ‘Life is On’. My priority in this new role is to accelerate our support to the oil and gas and petrochemical companies in their digital transformation and towards the energy transition.”

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