Joining forces for a low-carbon economy – our bank's contribution to CO2 Value Day Europe

The fourth CO2 Value Day took place online on 10 November. The event, which we helped set up as one of its partners, focused on the progress made in developing the CCU industry.

At BNP Paribas Fortis, we were delighted to help stage this event. The subject of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) lies close to our heart as we strive toward a low-carbon economy.

About CCU and CO2 Value Europe

Carbon capture and utilisation encompasses all industrial processes aimed at capturing carbon dioxide – from industrial sources or directly from the air – and converting it into usable products. Today, carbon is not simply a waste material; it can be reused as a raw material for a host of applications, including building materials, fuel production and in the chemical industry.

CO2 Value Europe, a European organisation founded in 2017, aims to promote the development and market introduction of these sustainable industrial solutions and thus contribute to reducing global CO2 emissions and diversifying the raw material base away from fossil fuels and gas. The organisation brings together more than 50 companies from various sectors across Europe, including 12 multinationals. As its only financial partner, we support CO2 Value Europe by giving the organisation access to our expertise and network.

The event

The CO2 Value Day is a unique opportunity for all members of CO2 Value Europe to assess the overall progress made in developing the CCU industry. This year, the event was once again a mix of plenary presentations, keynote speeches and interactive workshops.

After a welcome and introduction by Stefanie Kesting, Chair of CO2 Value Europe, Sebastien Soleille took to the floor. As Global Head of Energy Transition & Environment at our bank, he discussed the role banks play in supporting sustainable development. This is a responsibility that we do not take lightly at BNP Paribas Fortis, and we've been helping companies with their sustainable transition for years through our Sustainable Business Competence Centre. We focus on four pillars: decarbonisation, the circular economy, human capital and smart cities.

Vincent Basuyau, Policy Officer at DG GROW, then shed some light on CCU when it comes to current EU policy. This primarily concerned the Innovation Fund, established by the European Union to invest in innovative projects that decarbonise industrial activities in Europe.

The plans for 2021 were also unveiled. In the coming year, CO2 Value Europe will focus above all on the ongoing development of and market uses for CCU technologies. The aim is to coordinate the many different players involved in CO2 use in Europe, integrate their efforts into the value chain and become the ambassador of the CO2 user community towards policy-makers and financiers. After all, a favourable legal and market framework is a prerequisite for the commercial roll-out of CCU solutions.

CO2 Value Europe aims to encourage the ongoing development of CCU technologies by:

  • offering solutions to decrease net CO2 emissions from hard to abate sectors, such as energy-intensive process industries (e.g. cement and lime mortar, chemicals, steel and other metals) and the transport sector;
  • creating negative emissions in sequestering CO2 in building materials resulting from the carbonation of mineral waste;
  • providing an alternative raw material for the production of chemical building blocks and to replace fossil fuels and gas;
  • facilitating the storage and transport of renewable energy, speeding up the transition of energy systems in the EU;

There was also time for two break-out sessions, with the first focusing on developing a strategy to create a regulatory framework that supports the deployment of CCU technologies.

The second session concerned projects and financing. Aymeric Olibet, Sustainable Business Advisor at BNP Paribas Fortis, talked about a range of topics, including the solutions we offer companies through our Sustainable Business Competence Centre, financing sustainable projects through green bonds and green loans, and blended finance (a mix of public and private funding).

Finally, attendees had the chance to meet other participants during online speed meetings.



Icelandic power plant will sequester more CO2 than it emits

GreenTech is touted as the key to braking climate change. One power plant in Iceland is showing the way by becoming carbon negative.

Many countries, including France, have ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, thus committing to reducing the output of greenhouse gases. A number of cities, including Copenhagen and Barcelona are going even further, aiming to become ‘carbon neutral’ within a few years. One example from Iceland shows how GreenTech companies can help them achieve their emissions reduction targets. 

On this small island, Swiss CO2 capture technology specialist Climeworks has just installed the world’s first carbon removal solution based on direct air carbon capture (DAC) and geological storage. This carbon capture & storage system, running at the geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi, is part of the EU-funded CarbFix2 project. It is designed to demonstrate that the method – capturing CO2 direct from ambient air and pumping it, together with water, into the basaltic rock formation on which Iceland rests – actually works. The aim is to turn the gas rapidly into solid carbonate minerals, thus ensuring that it will not escape into the atmosphere for millions of years. 

The process is currently very costly, but such technical progress sustains the hope of the international community of keeping global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and thus helping to avert the worst effects of climate change. The Hellisheidi power plant is the first-ever installation equipped to achieve ‘carbon negative’ status.

Source : l’Atelier


A GreenTech start-up is recycling pollution by turning it into ink

What if pollution became a raw material? The start-up Graviky, singled out at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit, is offering a rather original eco solution.

While some start-ups are working to protect people from pollution, others are seeking to exploit its potential. This is why Graviky Labs, a spinoff of the MIT Media Lab selected as one of the six best start-ups in the environment category at the Hello Tomorrow Summit 2017, has developed Air-Ink, the first ink produced using pollution.

Thanks to Kaalink, a technological process installed in the exhaust pipe extension of a motor vehicle, fine particles are captured from the soot emitted. This collected material passes through several processes in order to extract the heavy and carcinogenic metals. This is how the final product, a carbon-based purified pigment, is obtained.

Next, this pigment passes through other chemical processes in order to produce different types of inks and paints. But why not simply eradicate the pollution rather that create ink from it? In order to eliminate its propensity to float in the air, explains Graviky. The patent is currently pending for this technology, which is designed for artistic use. The process has already captured 1.6 billion micrograms of particles, which is the equivalent of cleaning 1.6 billion litres of outside air. In the words of Richard Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, designer, inventor and futurist, "Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value."

Source: L’Atelier


The greenest companies are seducing millennials

Millennials are concerned about global warming but are counting on companies to take the necessary measures, according to a recent study. Does this mean that the future of retail will involve GreenTech?

There are many stakeholders who are committed to the planet; 145 States have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. On a smaller scale, cities sometimes set more ambitious aims for themselves. Twelve cities around the world have just announced their aim to be carbon neutral by 2030 in order to tackle global warming.

What about companies? The younger generations are counting on companies to act in turn. According to a recent study published by the PR group Shelton, 76% of millennials are worried about the consequences of climate imbalance on their quality of life, and 82% worry for their children's quality of life. Rather than acting themselves (only 34% recycle, compared with 52% of Americans of all ages), 59% of generation Y are turning to companies to resolve this issue that is bigger than them. 70% of millennials say that a firm's good environmental practices influence their purchasing decisions.

And in response to the question "what kinds of environmental or social practices are you most aware of?", environmental issues come in second place behind wellbeing at work. These concerns are in line with a previous study carried out by Nielsen, according to which 55% of consumers would be happy to pay more for brands that are committed to having a positive impact on the environment. In the same vein, a UCLA report has also established that employees of a green company are more productive than those employed by a company that isn't environmentally friendly. This leads us to believe that firms have everything to gain by going green. We would venture that GreenTech could facilitate this transition.

Source: L’Atelier


Electric vehicles and charging stations: Where to start?

For there to be more electric vehicles, there must be charging stations. But the charging stations cannot be profitable until there are sufficient vehicles on the road. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

If ever the fates of two innovations were closely intertwined, it is those of the electric vehicle and the charging infrastructure it relies on.

If you were a convert from the outset, there is a good chance you have a large, detached home or private drive in which to install a charging point cheaply. Or perhaps you are lucky enough to work for a responsible company that makes free charging stations available to its employees.

For all other drivers who are open to the idea of green vehicles and interested in these quiet cars, several issues arise: where are the charging points and how much do they cost? They will naturally need to be reassured before making the switch to electric.

Charging currently carried out in one of two ways

 In 80% of cases, drivers charge their vehicles at home. This is often sufficient since at present, electric cars are predominantly used to make short journeys in urban areas (with an average daily distance of some 30km). For under €1,000, owners of detached homes or those with a private drive can have a charging station installed by a specialist company, their vehicle dealership or their energy provider.

But what about the other 20%? Drivers who park their cars in the street will turn to public charging stations. Fortunately, work places are increasingly offering a solution, with some companies beginning to install charging facilities in the staff car park as a service they provide to their employees. They represent an additional way to promote more environmentally friendly travel methods. These points are often free to use and can enable longer commuter journeys, providing they are combined with overnight charging elsewhere.
Shopping centres may also provide free charging stations for their customers to use; in exchange, these guarantee users remain at the centre for 40–60 minutes, creating more chances for them to make purchases.

New opportunities – but using which business model?

 Private operators and energy providers are installing fee-paying charging points in public spaces such as car parks and streets. These points are designed for members of the public who cannot top up their vehicles elsewhere.
But creativity will be required to try to ensure every point is used: this means identifying and converting the best sites, joining a network that offers a mobile app to help users find its charging points, a simple means of payment, and agreeing price alignment on home charging services, etc. However, the profitability of public stations, which depends on how much they are used, will remain uncertain as long as other networks (home or business) offer preferential terms. And if the public model cannot be extended sufficiently, it will hold back the growth of electric cars. This is the great challenge for towns and cities tackling the roll-out of electric cars in future years.

Sources: LinkedIn

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