​Livestock manure, coffee grounds recruited by big oil to combat climate change

Image: Royal Dutch Shell

In a couple of small-scale but innovative ventures, oil giants Total and Royal Dutch Shell launched projects this week to cut greenhouse gas emissions using creatively produced biofuels.

Total has pledged to offset carbon emissions from all company plane travel through a biogas project using livestock manure, while Shell said it will help to power some of London’s iconic double-decker buses using a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds.

Total and the GoodPlanet Foundation signed a deal Monday for a project to deploy 8,400 biodigesters in Telangana State, India, to improve the lives of 45,000 people and contribute to tackling climate change.

The voluntary carbon neutrality initiative, eligible for certified carbon credits, will avoid the emission of 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year for a period of 10 years. That is equivalent to all emissions generated by plane travel by Total employees.

Designed for use by households, biodigesters utilize a fermentation process to convert livestock manure into biogas for cooking and hot water. The solids that remain after fermentation are then used as a nutrient source for crops.

Millions of households in India use wood as their primary fuel. The Adilabad project will provide around 45,000 disadvantaged people with renewable, clean, affordable energy, the company said in a statement.

The project was selected because of the country’s pivotal role in achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s two degrees Celsius objective and because of the GoodPlanet Foundation’s expertise in the region. The Adilabad project is starting up this month, with the first biodigesters to be operational in 2018.

The power of coffee

Shell partnered with bio-bean and Argent Energy to produce B20 biofuel that contains a 20 per cent bio-component, which contains part coffee oil. The biofuel is being added to the London bus fuel supply chain and will help to power some of the buses; without need for modification.

The average Londoner drinks 2.3 cups of coffee a day, which produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste a year, much of which would otherwise end in landfill with the potential to emit 126 million kilograms of CO2, according to Shell. bio-bean works to collect some of these waste coffee grounds from high street chains and factories.

The grounds are dried and processed before coffee oil is extracted. bio-bean works with its fuel partner Argent Energy to process the oil into a blended B20 biofuel. Some 6,000 litres of coffee oil has been produced, which if used as a pure-blend for the bio component and mixed with mineral diesel to form a B20, could help power the equivalent of one London bus for a year.

“When it comes to clean energy, we are always looking for the next inventive solution. A good idea can come from anywhere, but with the scale and commitment of Shell, we can help enable true progress,” Sinead Lynch, Shell U.K. country chair, said in a statement.

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