Elyse Energy announces the opening of an e-methanol plant on the Roches-Roussillon chemical hub

Lyon and Salaise-sur-Sanne, 21 September 2023 Elyse Energy – an industrial SME pioneering the production of low-carbon molecules – has announced the installation of an e-methanol production plant, called eM-Rhône, on Les Roches-Roussillon chemical platform in the Isère department (38).

Selected by the European Innovation Fund, the project accounts for a total investment of approximately €700 million. It will enable the production of nearly 150,000 tonnes of renewable methanol and the substitution of imported consumption with local production, while avoiding the emission of 207,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

 

The project will use CO2 captured in Lafarge’s plant in Le Teil, and forms part of the partnership initiated in 2022 between Lafarge France and Elyse Energy.

 

Construction is scheduled to start in 2025, with industrial commissioning in early 2028. The preliminary consultation process, a key stage in the project, is expected to be launched in early 2024.

 

Following on from eM-Lacq, announced in 2022 in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, eM-Rhône is a new stage in the eM-France e-methanol programme led by Elyse Energy.

THE PROJECT IS THE SPEARHEAD OF INDUSTRIAL DECARBONISATION IN THE RHONE VALLEY

 

Initiated in 2020 by Elyse Energy, the eM-Rhône project is now entering its industrialisation phase. After a two-year feasibility study, Elyse Energy decided to locate this project on the site of Les Roches-Roussillon chemical platform in Salaise-sur-Sanne, in the Isère department. Managed by the OSIRIS Economic Interest Group (GIE), Les Roches-Roussillon chemical platform brings together the world’s leading industrial and chemical companies in the Rhône valley. It is one of the main centres of methanol consumption in mainland France.

Les Roches-Roussillon site offers a number of advantages, including the ability to draw on the platform’s expertise in industrialisation and risk management, intermodal connectivity and access to the skills available in the region. It ties in with the OSIRIS’s decarbonisation effort, providing genuine industrial synergy.

 

150,000 TONNES OF E-METHANOL PRODUCED FROM HYDROGEN AND CARBON DIOXIDE

 

The eM-Rhône project aims to produce 150,000 tonnes of e-methanol per year for the chemical and shipping industries in the Rhône Valley. It requires the production of around 29,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year and the capture and utilization of 213,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Hydrogen will be produced by means of water electrolysis using an electrolyser located on the platform and connected to the electricity transmission network (RTE) at the Gampaloup substation. The electrolyser will be powered by low-carbon electricity.

Carbon dioxide will be captured and used at the OSIRIS site, as well as at the Lafarge plant in Le Teil, Ardèche, a hundred kilometres further south, where liquid CO2 will be transported by train to the platform.

 

€700 MILLION OF INVESTMENT AND 207,000 TONNES OF CO2 AVOIDED PER YEAR

 

The eM-Rhône project accounts for an estimated investment of around €700 million. It is expected to help create around 80 direct and indirect jobs once commissioned, and hundreds of jobs during the construction phase. This project will contribute to the long-term viability of the industrial assets on which the project is based, both at the Roches-Roussillon chemical hub and at the Le Teil site. In addition, it should contribute to tackling climate change by avoiding the emission of around 207,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gases.

 

THE PRELIMINARY CONSULTATION PROCESS IS EXPECTED IN THE COMING MONTHS

 

Together with the Electricity Transmission Network (RTE), Elyse Energy applied to the Commission Nationale du Débat Public (CNDP or National Public Hearings Commission) on 7 June 2023 to ensure public participation in the development of the project. The Commission decided to organise a preliminary consultation process, with a view to informing citizens, seeking their views and proposals on the project and its appropriateness, and encouraging dialogue among stakeholders. The effective launch of the preliminary consultation process, a key stage in the project, is expected by early 2024.

 

A NEW STAGE IN THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN ELYSE ENERGY AND LAFARGE FRANCE

 

The installation of a capture unit at the Lafarge plant in Le Teil is a new stage in the partnership initiated in July 2022. It is in keeping with Lafarge France’s decarbonisation strategy, as the company has committed to an ambitious approach aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in particular through the modernisation of its production facilities and the mobilisation of all industrial and technological levers.

 

Lafarge France’s commitment to new capture and reutilization solutions for unavoidable CO2, essentially resulting from the calcination of limestone, attests to its determination to decarbonise the construction industry at a sustained pace.

THE PROJECT HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE EUROPEAN INNOVATION FUND

 

On 13 July 2023, the European Commission announced the allocation of €3.6 billion to 41 large-scale projects in the field of clean technologies, to be financed by the European Innovation Fund, one of the main tools of the European Green Deal industrial plan. Supported by Elyse Energy and Lafarge France, the eM-Rhône project was selected by the European Commission to join 40 other projects in Europe out of 239 submitted, making it the only project in France in the hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives sector.

 

A NEW PHASE IN ELYSE ENERGY’S EM-FRANCE PROGRAMME

 

The eM-Rhône project is part of a wider production programme called eM-France, which aims to produce 500,000 tonnes of e-methanol in France. Following on from eM-Lacq, announced in 2022 in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, eM-Rhône is a new stage in this programme led by Elyse, which is as close as possible to consumers in the strategic methanol sector.

 

E-METHANOL, A GENUINE OPPORTUNITY FOR GREEN REINDUSTRIALISATION

 

Methanol, an important industrial feedstock, is used to create a variety of high added-value products such as cosmetics, medicines, resins, plastics, paints, silicones and animal feed. It is also emerging as a promising alternative to conventional marine fuels, with nearly 200 methanol-powered vessels currently under construction. Despite a global market of over 100 million tonnes, which has doubled in 15 years, methanol is mainly produced from natural gas and coal in China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Trinidad and Tobago.

 

However, an alternative to fossil methanol has emerged in recent years in the form of “e-methanol”. This technology is based on the use of low-carbon hydrogen, generated by water electrolysis supplied by nuclear or renewable electricity (hence the prefix “e”), as well as carbon from industrial processes. Although e-methanol production is currently limited to a few thousand tonnes in Iceland, the sector is growing rapidly, with nearly 60 major industrial projects under construction around the world, in particular in China, Sweden, Denmark, North America, and France.

 

The emergence of e-methanol provides France with a significant opportunity for green reindustrialisation. The country enjoys two major competitive advantages: a low-carbon electricity mix available all year round, adapted to the electrolysers available, and integrated chemical hubs capable of providing the necessary skills and infrastructure. With nearly 600,000 tonnes of fossil methanol imported each year by French manufacturers, and growing demand from major players in the maritime sector for methanol-powered vessels, e-methanol offers an opportunity to repatriate production while helping to establish a French industry of excellence.

“The eM-Rhône project realizes Elyse’s ambition: to reconcile energy transition, industrial sovereignty, and territorial industrialization. The establishment on the GIE OSIRIS platform, like the selection by the Innovation Fund, represents a major step for the project and demonstrates a confidence that obliges us,” explains Pascal Pénicaud, co-founder and CEO of Elyse Energy.

 

“The Osiris EIG is delighted to welcome Elyse Energy to its industrial hub. The project to build an e-methanol plant fits in perfectly with our industrial synergy policy, but also with the IEG’s broader ambition to encourage and contribute to the industrial revival of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. We know that the Elyse Energy teams will be very good partners with whom we will enjoy working”, points out Carl Patois, Director of the Osiris EIG.

 

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