How to Make a Serious Dent in Carbon Emissions

waterless fracking Tom

Tom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Sanofi Pasteur isn’t just helping to make sure we don’t get the flu this winter; it’s also doing its part to reduce carbon emissions with natural gas.

There’s no need for any of us to get the flu bug this year because Sanofi Pasteur is busy developing and manufacturing vaccines for it. Much of that effort is taking place at the company’s US headquarters in the Poconos, about 45 minutes from where I’m writing this post. Some 2,000 or so employees work there, part of the worldwide operations of Sanofi, a French company engaged in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and animal health industries. I often drive by their facilities in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania at night. The lights are always on as the firm’s employees labor to save lives with their research, simultaneously providing an economic foundation for a region far too dependent on tourism in the past.

Sanofi is doing something else right, too. They’re a corporate partner in reducing carbon emissions and are accomplishing it with natural gas.

Carbon emissions

Sanofi Pasteur Swiftwater Campus

Sanofi Pasteur converted its Swiftwater campus (see above) to natural gas in 2013. The Scranton Times reflected on it in a March, 2014 story (emphasis added):

Mid-2013 was a good time for Sanofi-Pasteur to switch to natural gas. The eve of the coldest winter in at least a decade, the 6.5-mile extension of a natural gas pipeline in Monroe County turned on, helping the vaccine maker convert from heating oil that had to be delivered by convoys of tanker trucks…

Sanofi officials said that after a year of natural gas use, the savings and performance of the revamped system is as expected. In addition to saving money, natural gas is also helping the company achieve environmental goals by reducing the carbon footprint of Sanofi’s Swiftwater campus.

This conversion is part of a bigger commitment Sanofi reaffirmed this past November when it joined 38 other French companies in making a pledge to “reduce their carbon footprint,” which means, of course, reducing carbon emissions. How are they now and how do they plan on continuing to do that? Well, once you read through the all the standard talking points that are part of such documents, you will find this telling statement at the bottom regarding what the 39 companies will really be doing (emphasis added):

In addition, they foresee low carbon investments of 15 billion euros in new nuclear capacities and investments of 30 billion euros in natural gas as energy transition solution, planned over the next five years.

Yes, they’re talking about energy efficiency, renewables and a bunch of other stuff in the vague wide-sweeping terms but, when it comes down to concrete actions and commitments to spend real money, it’s nuclear and natural gas that get specifically mentioned. Why, because the results are tangible, ensure ability to meet goals and yield high return in reduced carbon emissions for the investments made. Only fools would put all their money into renewable schemes with high costs and low capacity factors. Smart companies are willing to throw some money at those things, to be sure, but real results mean nuclear and natural gas and it’s the latter that’s getting the most attention.

The US and Europe aren’t the only places where natural gas conversions are working to achieve Sanofi’s goal of reduced carbon emissions, either. An on-line brochure outlining the companies actions with respect to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Egypt, offers up the following:

Energy Saving Since energy is one of the main aspects that we depend on, multiple energy saving programs are implemented by Sanofi Egypt like introducing saving power lamps across the site buildings, introducing solar cells system, introducing new chillers with less energy consumption as well as environment friendly machinery.

Moreover, Sanofi Egypt started since 2010 switching from electricity to Natural Gas, resulting in reducing the total electricity consumption from 67% to 50% (2010-2014) despite the increase of activities in our site.

Then, there is this statement from Sanofi’s explanation of what it’s doing to “Protect The Atmosphere” (also part of its CSR program):

NOx and SOx are emitted by combustion facilities. To reduce emissions of dusts and oxides, nearly 100% of our sites use natural gas as their primary source of fossil fuel in boilers. None of our sites use coal. This approach leads to less oxides and dust emissions, and helps to reduce our CO2 emissions.

And, there’s this from another Sanofi web page called “Every Kilometer Matters” on corporate responsibility to reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation of its products:

In partnership with its suppliers, Sanofi has equipped its delivery vehicles to run on gas or electricity. Thus, pharmacies located in Paris are supplied by a truck fleet running on natural gas. In Bangladesh, the fleet of delivery vans has run on natural gas for many years. Conscious of the impact that our distribution activity of the medicine can have on the climate, we provide solutions to reduce the effects.

Finally, it’s worth noting, too, the partnership Sanofi entered into with GDF SUEZ in 2013 to make major investments in natural gas technology that continue to reduce carbon emissions. GDF SUEZ is a major energy company (218,900 employees worldwide) involved with liquefied natural gas, energy efficiency services, independent power production and environmental services. The two firms said this about their collaboration at the time:

Building on the success of the initial agreement signed in March 2012 for Europe and Turkey, the two groups have expanded their collaboration to now include sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, and Singapore. All Sanofi’s production lines will be covered: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotechnology and animal health. The initial three-year term contract is extended to five years.

“Thanks to the global footprint of Sanofi and GDF Suez, this innovative partnership enables us to improve our competitiveness and achieve our environmental objectives,”said Christopher A. Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi. “As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility commitments, our ambition is to reduce by 20% our energy consumption by 2020.”

“We welcome this collaboration with Sanofi as a perfect illustration of GDF SUEZ’s strategy of becoming its customers’ energy partner,” said Gerard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO of GDF SUEZ. “This collaboration forms part of GDF SUEZ’s approach of providing innovative, energy efficient and environmental solutions to its industrial partners that are both effective and sustainable.”

Since the beginning of their collaboration in 2012, the two groups have launched five projects in France, Italy and Germany covering the installation of cogeneration or trigeneration gas turbines, and the construction of biomass boilers to improve the energy and environmental performance of these industrial sites.

The co-investment related to these projects represents 30 million euros in 2013. In the framework of the expanded collaboration, the total co-investments could reach up to 80 million euros.

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Sanofi Aventis co-generation facility

Everywhere you look, in fact, Sanofi is accomplishing its carbon emissions reduction commitment by using natural gas. There’s nothing surprising about it, of course, as natural gas and renewables are naturally compatible and the biggest bang for the buck has always been with natural gas. What is surprising is the fact so few people calling themselves environmentalists and climate activists refuse to acknowledge the obvious. They’re stuck on stupid ideology, while, despite them, the business of reducing carbon emissions, not to mention savings lives, goes on at smart companies such as Sanofi. Hurrah for the French! (Can’t believe I’m saying that!).

Hat Tip: S.F.
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4 thoughts on “How to Make a Serious Dent in Carbon Emissions

  1. Well Combined heat power and cooling are a no brainer for companies of this size. In fact with the abundance of natural gas in the keystone state lets hope companies like Cabot can start to do some great public relations by installing CHP units are host community fire halls and civic buildings. Rural Natural Gas pipeline development to me is as important as rural electrification was in the last century. Natural Gas in a distribution system does not have the loses of energy like am Electrical grid. Then there is the reliability of Natural Gas lines . Ever here of a Natural Gas line being broken by a fallen Tree ? Micro CHP is very much available in the marketplace and any public building or high energy user should be onboard in Northern states.

  2. Natural gas can be combusted to near 100% energy efficiency. Condensing boilers for small applications and condensing economizers for the larger applications.
    Vent cool exhaust and capture the distilled water.
    For every 1 million Btu’s recovered and utilized 117 lbs of CO2 will not be put into the atmosphere.

  3. Decreased CO2 ,Increased CH4 ( in drilling areas ) from NG operations and continuous venting from facilities .This venting ( leaks ) is not considered in emissions data ! …take a total account

    • CH4 is Natural Gas MR Bill. Burning it in a flare stack not only happens in Shale Land. Flaring exists at landfills which are a greater comtributor of CH4 methane . Lets hear how PV solar panels dont have a far more damaging Greenhouse gas called sulfur hexafluoride which the IPC has classified the most potent Greenhouse gas out there. 27000 times more potent then CO2 per molecule. The luddites rail again the most efficient technology on the planet by pushing for a time bomb called PV solar that do degrade over time and release far worse compound then naturally occuring Methane. For what with the bite your nose of to spite your face ? A pv panel that only works in good daylight and on sunny days .

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