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L’énergie dans le développement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie

 | 
Yves Le Bars
, 
Elsa Faugère
, 
Philippe Menanteau
, 
et al.

Emissions and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in New Caledonia

Emission reduction considerations in particular via storage, and recommendations for New Caledonia

Texte intégral

ACTIONS TO BE CONSIDERED TO STABILISE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

1In order to stabilise concentrations of CO2 on a planetary scale, action clearly needs to be taken at various levels:

  • manage energy better, and in particular to encourage energy savings1 ;
  • bring about a further move away, where possible, from fossil fuels;
  • use the best technologies available for activities that emit CO2.;
  • use renewed plant biomass in energy generation in order to replace fossil fuels;
  • use other renewable energies (wind power, tidal power, hydraulics, photovoltaic, geothermal, nuclear, etc.) where demand in the Territory is very low, and without entering into competition with the use of land for food or forestry production;
  • increase the average stocks of carbon in the forests;
  • where possible, opt for the geological storage of CO2 from fossil fuels and biomass at economically acceptable costs.

2IPCC reports issued every five or six years since 1990 provide an update into the level of understanding with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the different sectors (energy, industry, transport, housing, agriculture, landfill, land and forest use and change of use). Special reports also provide a round-up of insights into particular topics such as geological sequestration, changes in land use, aviation, CFCs and HFCs, etc. It is, however, down to the decision-makers locally and nationally to use this information in order to define greenhouse gas reduction policies in their region and prioritise actions to be taken. Each region needs to identify not only the least expensive way of reducing emissions, but also the best way of implementing subsequent policies. The capacity of tradesmen and industrialists in ensuring follow-up and after-sales service also needs to considered.

3In this document, we talk about only a few of the conditions and routes for achieving the objective discussed in this section. This study therefore needs to be completed by local teams in New Caledonia who know the area well.

MONITORING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

4Not taking into account changes in land use, emissions from New Caledonia and the Territorial Overseas Communities (COM) increased by 63.5 % (+ 1.8 million tonnes equivalent of CO2) between 1990 and 2007, with most of this increase attributable to an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide (+ 1.7 Mt), i.e. due to industry, transport and electricity generation. These emissions increases, along with those of CFCs and HFCs, thus need to be monitored.

5In order to meet the commitments of the Kyoto protocol, any increased precision in the measures taken depends on the total area under consideration.

REDUCING FOSSIL-BASED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

6The approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-based origins are quite simple, and pretty much all of them have been familiar since 1992. New Caledonia’s electricity generation is quite carbon intensive given that it uses coal. However it is not, a priori, easy to replace coal with other fuels. We have already seen that natural gas, while preferable to coal, is not accessible in New Caledonia. Studies still need to be conducted into the possibility of making energy savings and reducing emissions from electricity generation and thermal power plants by replacing coal with imported wood.

7The approaches for agriculture and forests are a little more complex. The Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) is currently testing territorial approaches within its Climaterre project. We should note, however, that the increase in lignocellulosic biomass production in New Caledonia is still extremely poorly defined, and undoubtedly limited. Countries which import a not insignificant part of their food should not, generally speaking, consider producing plant matter for energy unless it is on land unsuitable for food or timber production. Imported food products also generate green-house gases. It is thus not clear, except under the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) current greenhouse gas emissions accounting, that producing bio-energy locally will result in a real reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at a planetary level. It may be better to first develop local agricultural production. A prospective study into the use of land for agriculture and forest in a way which is both theoretically possible and economically viable to ensure New Caledonia’s sustained development is therefore needed.

8In the short term, it would seem that it is essential to define the options for increasing average carbon stores in the forests of New Caledonia in terms of both the climate change convention and the Kyoto protocol, but equally in terms of the period post 2012 where the methods of application remain unknown. But the accuracy of the measures required (and with it the costs) will vary depending on whether this information is to be used across the whole of France, or solely on the scale of New Caledonia. It will depend in particular on the accounting applied under article 3.4 of the protocol in the period post 2012, and the commitments that New Caledonia could adopt as set out in “New Caledonia’s international integration”. In any case, it would be useful for a forestry engineer and some experts to be given responsibility for following up these inventories so that, when the time is right, decisions which need to be taken within the local, French, or international context can be made.

Geological storage

9This category in particular includes the geological storage of CO2 in petrol sinks and saline aquifers. We already know how to use CO2 for enhanced oil recovery by injecting CO2 into oil sinks. We also know about storing emissions in saline aquifers. Some technical verification is still needed, notably to be able to guarantee that emissions of CO2 will be minimal and, most importantly, to enforce appropriate legislation to render such operations acceptable.

10The geological storage of CO2 in basalt and peridotite is at a less advanced stage than geological storage in saline aquifers. Additional research will therefore be needed in the short term. All these solutions are still too expensive, and it is still unclear currently which will emerge as the most efficient in ten years’ time. The current differences are not of a nature to favour one route over another.

11Those at the IEA in favour of geological sequestration and certain other professionals estimate the cost of storing one tonne of CO2 to be between €60 and €90. In 2008, the cost of purchasing the emission rights for one tonne of CO2 on the European Union market was around three times lower (€15 to 20 per tonne of CO2). Estimates indicate that the current cost could be halved between 2015 and 2020. In the case of new coal-fired electricity generating plants, the cost of sequestration could fall, coming up to 2030, to €30-45 per tonne of CO2. In the case of the new coal-fired 300 MW power plants which are designed to capture and store CO2, geologically, the additional cost for initial operation would be between 0.5 to 1.1 million euros.

12But if the aim is to halve global greenhouse gas emissions and enable development to continue, governments will need to become more demanding and raise the price per tonne of CO2 avoided. According to certain Japanese studies, the price could even rise to more than €140 if emissions needed to be divided by 4 in industrialised countries. This option will not be economically viable, and can be deployed on a large scale only if the price per tonne of CO2 reaches €60m, and if the cost of geological storage reaches the same price. Otherwise, these routes will have to be subsidised to a greater or lesser degree. In the meantime, those in favour of this technology are looking to obtain specific funding for a series of pilot activities to be implemented between 2015 and 2020, including in developing countries. They would like these activities to be funded by auctioning emissions rights on the European market.

13In the immediate term, it is impossible to imagine how an industrial sector subject to international competition and obligations to reduce emissions within the context of a national quotas allocation plan could currently consider geological storage. There is, however, nothing wrong with imagining that agreements could be reached: the industrialists making a financial contribution to developing this technology could, for example, ask to be released from the CO2 remissions reductions or excluded from the national quotas allocation plan. The European Union has already decided to support certain pilot activities, in particular the geological storage of emissions by Arcelor Mittal in Lorraine, and three other projects are also being considered in France.

RECOMMENDATIONS

14For details of the recommendations set out below, please refer to the recommendation sheets which are collated at the end of the report following the “Conclusion and recommendations” section.

1. Creating a centre for energy management and greenhouse gas emissions in New Caledonia

15We recommend that a New Caledonian centre specialising in monitoring and managing greenhouse gas emissions be established. The census of greenhouse gas emissions could be refined, in particular if specific information needed to be provided to the government of New Caledonia. This unit could, for example, also quantify, approximately at least, emissions from products imported into and consumed in the Territory. Of course, these latter emissions are not currently considered in international climate negotiations but initial interest is in those countries emitting large volumes. It is, however, important that small regions consider the emissions if they wish to play a part in limiting climate change.

16For more details, cf. “New Caledonia’s international integration”.

2. Limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases other than CO2

17It seems very important to monitor and limit emissions of CFCs and their substitutes such as HFCs and methane emissions.

3. Creating a New Caledonian centre to evaluate agricultural and forest areas and food and non-food biomass

18It would be desirable to establish a centre dedicated to evaluating agricultural and forest land, perhaps supported and led by the IAC (Institut agronomique calédonien/Caledonian Agricultural Institute) at the same time taking into account the economic social and environmental aspects (i.e. carbon storage too) of producing food and non-food plant biomass in New Caledonia.

19An engineer and technicians will also need to be allocated to monitoring changes in carbon stores in the forests, and liaising with external teams in particular that specialise in developing inventories by means of teledetection.

20Finally, research programmes will need to be implemented into non-traditional techniques for foresters to “reinflate” the vegetation.

4. Reducing emissions from heat generating plants through fuel substitution

21It would be useful to investigate the possibility of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heat and electricity generating plants by replacing part of the coal with imported wood. To this end, a prefeasibility study would first need to be completed, possibly followed by a feasibility study bringing together the government of New Caledonia, Enercal and the nickel manufacturers. This could, for example, be jointly funded by the territorial energy management programme on the basis of a specification to be drawn up with the manufacturers.

5. The geological storage of CO2 following the capture of CO2 from heat generating plants

22In order to stabilise the climate, techniques for the capture and geological storage of CO2 will inevitably need to be developed.

23In developing less onerous techniques for capturing CO2 at heat generating plant outlets, New Caledonia should look, when the time is right, to the transfer of technologies perfected elsewhere. It is thus currently sufficient to simply ensure that there is the space required at the plants for capture installations, and to monitor technology to ensure that research which could be used for units of the size existing in New Caledonia is well managed in other countries.

24Geological storage in New Caledonia on the other hand requires research to be led locally. The geological substrate of New Caledonia indeed seems particularly suitable for experimentation with new approaches, particularly using peridotite. This will require further research and development. It is thus important to recommend that a research programme be developed with, in particular, the University, the ANR (National Research Agency) and the nickel manufacturers. New Caledonia should also have every interest in joining the CO2CRC network in which New Zealand is also heavily involved.

25Developing techniques which can be applied in this area would be of interest not only to New Caledonia, but equally to countries which are most vulnerable to climate change, and especially the small islands with most of their land mass at low altitude.

26Expertise could, eventually, be exported, in particular to Oman and Papua New Guinea.

27Appropriate human and equipment resources also need to be allocated to these actions, whose number we have deliberately limited.

Notes

1 Provided this is not to the detriment of the efficiency of phytomass production in the territory.

© IRD Éditions, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540