The development of bioenergies, like that of other low-carbon businesses1, is central to our ambition to become the responsible energy major. As pioneers in biofuels, which we have been producing for more than 20 years, and active participants in the production of bioplastics, we have a role in the sector’s future and the development of all biomass conversion pathways.
BIOENERGIES: HELPING TO RECONCILE GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE
A renewable, low-carbon resource, biomass encompasses all organic material derived from plants and animals.
Biomass can be converted to produce biofuels and bioplastics, and thereby help meet three major challenges.
Meeting the Energy Needs of a Growing World Population
The increase in global energy needs goes hand in hand with global population growth and economic and social development. In the transportation sector, energy needs are increasing by 1% per year. Demand for plastics is growing by 4% annually.
Limiting Global Warming
According to the 2°C scenario put forward by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which Total uses as a reference in its strategy, the world economy must undertake major changes in order to limit energy-related carbon emissions. One of the drivers identified to achieve this shift is an increase in the share of renewable energies, particularly through the development of biofuels.
More than 20% of worldwide CO2 emissions are attributable to transportation. Biofuels are key to reducing this sector’s environmental footprint, as biomass today represents the only renewable alternative to fossil fuels in the production of liquid fuels, on which transportation still largely depends. A significant amount of legislation has been passed to encourage and channel the development of biofuels. In Europe, for example, 10% of transportation fuel must come from renewable sources by 2020.
Also offering interesting prospects for reducing the environmental footprint is the development of bioplastics. Polylactic acid (PLA) polymers, for example, are biodegradable and less carbon-intensive than conventional polymers.
Adapting to the Changing Expectations of Customers and Society
Conscious of the urgency of combating climate change and sensitive to the issue of sustainable development, our customers are adapting their behavior and expect solutions with a lower environmental impact, including biofuels and bioplastics.
PREPARING THE FUTURE OF BIOFUELS AND BIOPLASTICS
To achieve our ambition of becoming a leader of biofuels and developing innovative bioplastics, we are actively working on all solutions for converting biomass.
We are involved in the two major biomass conversion pathways:
- Thermochemical conversion, which enables biomass to be transformed into a wide range of molecules, through the combined action of pressure, temperature and often a catalyst.
- Biotechnology, which uses microorganisms, such as yeast or bacteria, to convert biomass into targeted molecules.