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    Canada’s TC Energy sets roadmap to net zero


Compressor electrification, CCUS and hydrogen are all on the table.

by: Dale Lunan

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Canada’s TC Energy sets roadmap to net zero

Canadian energy infrastructure giant TC Energy released a new emissions reduction plan on October 26, setting out a roadmap it said would reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 30% by 2030 and set it on a path to achieving net zero emissions from its operations by 2050.

TC Energy CEO Francois Poirier pointed to the many unknowns in the global energy transition and the continuing uncertainty about which low-carbon solutions will be widely-adopted. But he said industry can’t do it alone – policy, regulatory and technology support will be needed, especially from governments.

“Governments will need to provide direct financial support for emissions reduction initiatives, emerging low-carbon fuels and infrastructure, and other decarbonisation solutions,” he said in the plan’s introductory comments. “New technologies must come to market at a scale and cost that is competitive. We will adapt and respond as these factors change over the life of our plan.”

TC Energy said it would target five focus areas to reduce the emissions intensity of its operations:

  • Modernisation of existing systems and assets;
  • Decarbonisation of its energy consumption;
  • Investments in low-carbon energy and infrastructure;
  • Drive digital solutions and technologies, and;
  • Leverage carbon offsets and credits.

TC Energy’s emission reduction targets address Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, and focus primarily on reducing CO2, CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrogen oxide) emissions, all of which are generated largely (71%) from fuel combustion associated with its natural gas pipeline assets. Electricity consumption (Scope 2) accounts for 11% of TC Energy’s GHG emissions profile, followed by fugitive emissions and leaks (10%) and venting and other emissions (8%).

While Scope 3 emissions are not targeted in the reduction plan, TC Energy said it tracks and reports on four categories of Scope 3 emissions – fuel and energy-related not already included in Scopes 1 and 2, waste-generated operations, business travel and upstream leased assets – and is actively working with its suppliers and customers to understand Scope 3 emissions along its full value chain.

Under the “modernisation” bullet point, TC Energy says it will manage emissions by enhancing its leak detection and repair programmes, install waste heat recovery units on compressors and pilot new technology and equipment to capture vented emissions.

It’s been actively working on a modernisation plan for its Columbia Gas Transmission system in the US, where $2.5bn has been invested in system enhancements since 2013. Since then, cumulative avoided emissions have reached 258,000 metric tons of CO2e (mtCO2e), and based on the work that’s been done, annual emissions avoided are expected to average 57,000 mtCO2e.

To decarbonise its energy consumption, TC Energy, like many in the Canadian oil and gas industry, is turning to renewables to power as many of its systems as possible. 

“Our liquids systems use a fleet of electric-powered pumps and we are advancing plans to source renewable power for that fleet,” the roadmap says. “There is little to no change in the equipment or infrastructure required to transition to renewable power, and the pipeline right-of-way traverses many geographies that are well-suited to wind or solar power.”

Once all its liquids pipeline assets in both the US and Canada are powered by renewables, the roadmap says, GHG reductions could reach as high as 2mn mt/yr.

The major GHG culprit for TC Energy, however, are compressors on its natural gas pipelines, many of which are fueled by natural gas. These compressors are gradually being replaced by electric drive units, with 10% of the compressor fleet in Canada and 5% of the fleet in the US now powered by electricity – but it’s not stopping there.

“To further reduce the emissions intensity of our natural gas pipeline operations, we are investigating opportunities to power our electric compressors with renewable sources,” the roadmap says. “The experience we are gaining in sourcing renewable power for our liquids pipelines will enable us to implement a similar approach to our natural gas pipeline business both in the US and Canada.” 

Finally, TC Energy said it would continue to invest in low-carbon energy and infrastructure, building on its recent plans for an Alberta Carbon Grid that would leverage the development of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) opportunities and its plans to develop hydrogen production assets in Atlantic Canada with Irving Oil.