Did you know ?
840 millions (1)
The number of people who could leave extreme poverty if they had access to affordable energy(4).
140 millions (2)
The number of possible climate refugees by 2050 if the world doesn’t drastically curb greenhouse gases emissions. According to the World Bank(1), 840 million people still do not have access to energy in 2020, leaving them in a difficult situation. And on the other side, the growing energy consumption (mainly from fossil sources) over the last decades and the consequent release of large quantities of greenhouse gases destabilizing the Earth’s climate as we’ve known it. This could – among a wealth of challenges – force more than 140 million people to leave unhabitable zones because of climate change or sea level rise. To stay below the +2°C scenario, the current planetary greenhouse gases emissions should be divided by 3 by 2050.
Those two objectives seem antagonistic, right?
Looking at both these numbers, it seems very challenging to reconcile the need for a broader energy access vs. less GHG emissions: on the one hand, it would be great to provide energy to take people out of this extreme poverty and, on the other hand, this energy should be as decarbonized as possible to limit the damages on the climate, biodiversity and the system Earth as a whole.
Well, it’s challenging but there are ways.
Solutions do exist, and they need to be implemented fast. The first one is probably the most controversial, but it is, for those who benefit from an easy access, to consume less energy. Then, of course, it is to decarbonize the energy mix by moving away from fossil energies and use less carbon-intensive and renewable sources. Finally, there are ways to capture and store the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or directly from industrial sources. Being ready for a more sustainable way of life requires mitigating the damages but also adapting to changes.
Did you know?
The world is addict to fossil energy sources and it will take some time to replace them with more sustainable ones. The latter will also be needed to transition to other less carbon-intensive sources, to build infrastructures to “harness” the energy from the wind, the sun, the water, the atoms…
Two facts. Firstly, for mature oilfields, it’s not uncommon to produce 4 barrels of water per barrel of oil. Secondly, on average, only 35% of the oil trapped in a “conventional” reservoir is extracted before it’s often considered uneconomical to produce another drop. So, both energy and resources are wasted here. There are ways to make the production more efficient and recover more from existing fields while avoid exploring new sensitive zones in the Artic for instance. SpotLight can play a role in optimizing the production by providing data on the subsurface dynamics. We make the most out of existing data, we use existing equipment and we keep things very simple.
CO2 geological storage comes into play.
To remain in the +2°C scenario in 2100, we should emit less than 1180 Gtons of CO2 up to that date. This corresponds to 30 years of emissions at the current rate. If the world keeps emitting substantial quantities of CO2 but we want to stay below the +2°C scenario, we will have to capture & store CO2. A lot of CO2 (more than 1200 Gtons)(7). What is 1 Gton? That’s 9 billion barrels of supercritical CO2 or the emissions of 250 million light-duty vehicles (US fleet in 2017). So, imagine 1200 Gtons… We can’t either.
One way to store CO2 is to inject it in subsurface reservoirs such as in old oil-bearing formations or aquifers. The geological storage of CO2 is an interesting (but complex) approach. Without mentioning all the technical challenges, there’s one that directly concerns SpotLight: storing such an extraordinary volume on a global scale and keeping it underground without any leaks requires constant monitoring.
This is where SpotLight can help.
Our solution can help ensure that the CO2 remains in the subsurface, by monitoring, detecting and alarming if any changes occur. We do not want our contribution to be limited to mitigate the damages of global warming. We are geoscientists, and our role and responsibility go beyond. We are experts of the subsurface and what’s underneath our feet might surprise you.
Did you know?
There’s not only oil and gas trapped below our feet that could provide energy to the world, not mentioning the rare earth elements or other minerals which are needed for a variety of applications. That’s good news for the geoscientists! For the most promising sources, we can mention Deep Geothermal energy and Hydrogen (which can be found in natural occurrences too!). For both applications, either to extract/produce or inject/store, understanding the subsurface dynamics is key to better characterize the resources and monitor the evolution of the processes.
At SpotLight, we aim to be part of this adventure.