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Brief description:

Energy and climate change - policy and progress


In April 2010, France submitted its national report on greenhouse gas emissions to the UNFCCC, providing data from 1990 to 2008. For the period 1990 to 2007, estimates used for the report were reviewed and corrected in light of enhanced knowledge or changes in methodology.

In 2008 – under the Kyoto Protocol – the country emitted 527 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (excluding land use, land use change and forestry). This represented a 6.4% reduction based on 1990 levels. The energy sector was the country’s largest emitter in 2008, accounting for 71.6% of its Global Warming Potential. Agriculture was responsible for 18.5% and industrial processes accounted for 7.7%. Since 1990, energy production is the only sector to report an increase in emissions. All other sectors show a decrease.

National Inventory Submissions 2010 to UNFCCC

GHG emission profiles for Annex I Parties

Initial France report under UNFCCC

Global map Annex 1

Regulatory framework, challenges and commitments

European context

France is part of the European Union (EU), which adopted a CCS directive (EU 2009/31/CE) in April 2009 that requires member states to introduce the necessary laws and regulations to comply with it by 25 June 2011. The CCS directive defines CCS as a “bridging technology” rather than an incentive for a European country to increase its share of fossil fuel power plants. It relates to storage sites within its member states’ territories and on their continental shelves. Each country within the EU retains the right not to allow storage in their territories, and those that allow it must carry out an assessment of potential capacity.

The CCS directive is one of the first full legal frameworks for the management of environmental and health risks related to CCS worldwide, including requirements on permits, monitoring, inspections, corrective measures and financial security. The EU has channelled revenue from the sale of EU Emission Trading System allowances to support CCS and renewable technologies, and is expected to back up to 12 demonstration projects to start operating by the end of 2015.

National context

France was heavily involved in the development of the EU CCS directive, and has finalised its transposition. Its Decree n°2011-1411 on the geological storage of CO2 came into force in late 2011, which relates to exclusive rights to explore as well the granting of storage permits. It also covers monitoring, closure and post-closure of storage sites as well as transfer of responsibility procedures.

In August 2009, the country adopted new core legislation that requires any new coal power plant to be CCS ready and have a full-scale demonstration programme. As with other EU member states, France is now absorbing the EU CCS directive into its national legal framework – the remit of the General Directorate for Energy and Climate Change. Requirements fall either within law, regulations or administration, and the government is taking a stepped approach to this process.

In May 2010, parliament adopted exploration permit principles and granting processes, with direct reference to the country’s mining code, which handles access rights to underground resources. As well as having the necessary approvals, injection tests must also include public consultation, with costs met by the developer. The government also recognises that CO2 pipeline network development is of public interest.

The government has consulted on its new CCS legislation, and it is now under review by the State Council. Over the last six months, delegates from the Ministry of Environment and from national institutions - BRGM and IFP Energies Nouvelles - have been assisting with the work to transpose the EU’s CCS directive to a national framework. This is expected to be done before mid-2011.

The Environment Roundtable, a government initiative, was set up in 2007 to define key policies on sustainable development issues for the next five years. It is run by the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Planning and Development, and has brought together representatives from the state, local authorities, trade unions, employers and non-governmental agencies and organisations to decide on action with six key areas, including climate change and the control of energy demand.

Climate change/CCS programmes and support mechanisms

There are several agencies in France that are actively involved, at both national and international levels, in introducing CCS on a commercial scale. Current work focuses on developing economically viable technologies and infrastructure for fossil fuel power plants and other large-emitting industrial sources. Changes in the regulatory framework, leading from the EU CCS directive, will also clear the way for the deployment of CCS as a means to reduce GHG emissions. Funding comes predominantly from the European Union, of which France is a member, with project-specific support from various private sector partners. Internationally, France is playing a key part in the development of crucial CCS technologies, particularly through the auspices of its R&D agencies IFP and BRGM.

ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, is a public agency with a mission to facilitate operations that protect the environment and manage energy. In 2009, it had a budget of €638 million for funding and operational costs. The agency has earmarked CCS as one of its research priorities and, in 2002, it created Club CO2 – an umbrella organisation for French research on CO2 capture and geological storage.

Club CO2 has brought together key French industrial players and public research bodies to consider and progress CO2 capture, transport and storage technologies and their deployment. Its three main tasks are to advise French scientific programmes, develop and protect French technologies within an international arena, and co-ordinate joint work by public sector and corporate research teams. Its partners include Total, Air Liquide, ARCELOR, Lafarge, Alstom Technologie, Electricité de France and Gaz de France together with the public research bodies BRGM and IFP.

IFP Energies Nouvelles (the French Institute of Petroleum) is a major player in the field of CCS in France. It is leading several national projects and is a key participant in international initiatives and developments. Its main focus is to research and develop pre and post-combustion and oxycombustion capture technologies with a view to improving their economic viability. Details of their main projects can be found here.

Another big hitter in CCS development is BRGM, France’s leading public organisation involved in earth sciences research, survey and the sustainable use of natural resources. It also has a role in policy and international co-operation. It has already built up 15 years’ experience in CCS research and development, both nationally and internationally. More about its activities in France and worldwide can be found here.  BRGM is also a key player in CO2 Geonet (see below).

France’s National Research Agency (ANR) is another public body that funds research projects. It was founded in 2005 and currently has a budget of around €955 million. It has sponsored projects led by BRGM and IFP, for example, PICOREF – a four-year study of the potential for geological storage of CO2 in France.

IFP has been instrumental in setting up or supporting industrial companies that are researching and developing low carbon technologies towards full-scale commercial use. Geogreen, which was set up recently as a joint venture of IFP, BRGM and storage company Geostock, is focusing on the engineering requirements of CO2 transport and geological storage. It is an international company with a remit to provide a competitive service within the industry.

International co-operation

French agencies and companies are involved in several international ventures that seek to put in place CCS technologies and infrastructure as part of EU moves to reduce GHG emissions.

CO2 Geonet is a European scientific agency that unites 13 research institutions from seven countries, including France’s earth sciences agency BRGM (see above).  It is involved in all aspects of CO2 geological storage and provides scientific research and expertise. The initiative was launched under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme, now replaced by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) which provides funding for research within the European Community.

IFP is a core player in ECCO. Its goal is to drive forward decisions on the early and future uses of CO2 value chains, advising on how best to develop an economically viable European CCS infrastructure.  ECCO is coordinated by independent research agency SINTEF and includes 18 other specialist partners from nine EU countries. Within the venture, IFP is focusing on enhanced oil and gas recovery with CO2 injection. An EU project funded by the FP7, it has a total budget of €5.35 million over three years. It began in 2008 and initial results are expected by September 2011.

In 2010, the iCap project was set up under the EU’s FP7 to explore groundbreaking and cost-effective post-combustion capture technologies. Its 15 partners, which include France’s IFP, are coordinated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.  The project will run until 2013.

Another European venture exploring low-cost PCC technology, CESAR, unites IFP with other research agencies, universities, suppliers, upstream companies and power generators. Its aim is to develop post-combustion solutions for new and existing power plants, one focus being testing at the Esbjerg power plant in Denmark. The project continues the work conducted as part of the CASTOR project, which was funded under the EU’s FP6, and which also involved French company Gaz de France.

The CO2ReMoVe project began in 2006 and will run until early 2011. Coordinated by TNO of The Netherlands, the consortium of industrial and research agencies includes France’s Total, IFP and BRGM.  A pooling of expertise in CO2 geological storage will provide a scientific reference point for the development of reliable and safe long-term CO2 storage. Its research will also underpin guidelines for storage site certification and help create standards for policy makers, regulators and industry.

Storage potential

In 2005, the French Ministry of Industry and a consortium of companies and research agencies – including Air Liquide, Alstom, Geostock, Total, Gaz de France and IFP – funded a two-year project to consider CO2 storage in permeable reservoirs within France.

GéoCarbone-PICOREF followed a four-year study by RTPG and other French industry and research bodies into available data and expertise in the field. PICOREF was to select suitable geological sites where CO2 storage could be tested at pilot scale – around 100 million tonnes per year – and both deep saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas fields were considered.

The work, which was led by IFP, focused on part of the Paris Basin, since detailed geological data already existed, saline aquifers had been identified, depleted oilfields were known about, and there were sources of CO2 in the area that could feed the pilot at an appropriate flow rate.

Previously, from 2000 to 2003, BRGM had prepared an initial inventory of French aquifers as part of the GETSCO project, funded by the EU’s FP5 programme. It had highlighted the Paris Basin as having huge potential for CO2 storage – specifically two aquifers, the Dogger and Keuper formations. The project also gathered all documentation relevant to developing CCS in the region - such as regulations, risk assessments and relevant authorisations.

In its first year, PICOREF had a budget of €3.75 million. It continued from 2006 to 2007 with research agency ANR at the helm.  The GETSCO project was picked up by the French Agency for the Environment (ADEME). Gaz de France report 2006

The METSTOR project began in 2005 to design a geographic information system for identifying potential CO2 storage sites in France. It was a joint venture by BRGM, IFP, Inéris, Gaz de France, Géostock, Cired, University of Pau and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris.

It aimed to provide a tool for industry in its consideration of ways to mitigate GHG emissions, potentially through CO2 capture and storage. The project has created a website with an interactive map that allows users to assess storage capacities, potential risks and socio-economic issues within a selected area. At present, the system focuses on the Paris Basin, due to data currently available.

A project report in February 2010 concludes that the tool could become a national resource once new data is fed in from other areas, such as the Aquitaine basin, the Lorraine coal basin, or other aquifers in the Paris basin. It also believes the assessment criteria could be refined and that it is crucial that content is kept up-to-date. The partners now plan to assess the relevance of the system through engaging with stakeholders and applying it to an actual CO2 storage project.

METSTOR project report February 2010

More information

General Directorate for Energy and Climate Change

IFP information on European CO2 projects

IFP CO2 focus

BRGM homepage

European Commission CORDIS ('gateway to R&D')