Setting Ourselves Up for Success: Meeting Our 2050 Emission Goals Through Innovation at Enbridge

Aug 2, 2022 11:25 AM ET

Originally published in Enbridge's 2021 Sustainability Report

Modernization and innovation

Modernizing and applying innovation to our existing assets is playing a major role in helping us increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions intensity.

Many of our projects within our GTM and GDS businesses are focused on modernizing our existing system to improve efficiency, reduce methane emissions and enhance leak detection. One of the largest, GTM’s US$2.1-billion modernization program—which involves replacing older, less efficient natural gas-fired compressors on our gas transmission system—will increase station efficiency and system reliability and is expected to reduce GHG emissions by 25% at replaced compressors. The first phase is expected to reduce GHG emissions on our Texas Eastern pipeline by more than 180,000 tCO2e annually beginning in 2024, and our second phase will further reduce emissions. Additional modernization works include piloting methane abatement technologies and changing design and operating standards. One example is GDS using portable blowdown recovery units to avoid venting at compressor stations and segments of the gas pipeline during maintenance and construction. We are also exploring advanced controls which give us greater visibility into operating conditions and the flexibility to better allocate compression horsepower to changing demand profiles and more efficient units that need less fuel per million BTU transported.

GDS direct decarbonization projects include investments into low-carbon value chain (RNG, H2, CCUS). Additionally, GDS is committed to reducing GHG emissions through modernization initiatives on existing facilities. Our Facility GHG Emission Reduction Program has identified opportunities over the years to address the needs of various drivers, including the Federal Methane Regulations and the cancelled Cap and Trade program. For 2021, the GHG reduction work was initiated to support Enbridge’s GHG emission reduction targets; some of these opportunities include: Compressor Modernization, which is replacing older, less efficient units with newer, lower-emission units; Copper Service Replacement, which is a proactive strategy to replace remaining copper services to reduce leaks; Portable Blowdown Recovery to remove gas from a section of pipeline under repair or maintenance; and LED Lighting Conversion in operated buildings and facilities.

Within our LP unit, the focus is on reducing electricity consumption by optimizing system operations and upgrading equipment. The system optimization includes, for example, allocating larger volumes of crude oil to more energy-efficient pipelines, using a drag reducing agent to reduce pipeline fluid friction and allow for certain pump stations to be bypassed, and rightsizing pumps and equipment based on flow rates to improve efficiency. The installation of variable-frequency drives on pumping units at key Line 4 stations is saving energy and improving reliability, while a newly developed “energy optimizer” uses AI technology to optimize pump operations on Line 5. We will look to expand these programs to other lines in the coming years. These initiatives are estimated to reduce over 100,000 Mt of CO2e emissions annually.

Meeting our 2050 goals through innovation

As a company, Enbridge has committed to company-wide net zero emissions by 2050. Through initiatives like solar self-power, infrastructure modernization and exploration of greener fuels, the 2050 target is absolutely achievable.

Procurement of low-carbon electricity

Procurement of low-carbon electricity is purchasing power from less emissions intensive sources, which involves active engagement and collaboration with our utility providers to accelerate their own decarbonization plans; for example, advocating on initiatives to convert coal-fired power generation and repower with natural gas combined cycle units or renewable power generation. Supporting our regional power utilities’ ambition to increase the mix of low-carbon power generation of their fleet, in turn, lowers the emission intensity of the power we consume for operations. Additionally, seeking out partnerships with utilities on renewable power projects is another example of how we can influence a “greener” grid in the regions where we operate.

Self-powering our assets

By building and operating on-site solar energy facilities to power electric compressors and pumps at our stations, we are reducing our Scope 2 emissions and lowering power costs. The 13 projects approved are estimated to reduce emissions by approximately 100,000 tCO2e in the year of in-service and generate a strong return on equity. In 2021, our first Canadian self-power facility—Alberta Solar One—came into service. The facility supplies a portion of our Canadian Mainline crude oil and liquids network’s power requirements. We also have two self-power facilities operating in the U.S., our Lambertville Solar Project and Heidlersburg Solar Project, which offset a portion of the electric load at the nearby gas compressor stations and help power the compressor units that keep natural gas flowing along our cross-continent Texas Eastern pipeline. We currently have 10 more projects under construction across our liquids and gas transmission systems. In total, with these (13) approved projects we expect to reduce emissions by more than 858,000 tCO2e by 2030 with further avoided emissions over the 30-year life of the projects.

Renewables and low-carbon infrastructure

Enbridge’s low-carbon portfolio has grown from investment in a single wind farm in 2002 to more than $8 billion invested in renewable energy projects at year-end 2021. Today, we have net renewable energy capacity—either operating or under construction—of 2,178 MW of zero-emissions energy, avoiding approximately 2 million tonnes of CO2e emissions annually. Over the past 20 years, we have also established strong in-house capabilities, including significant experience developing and operating our renewable energy projects.

We have three offshore wind projects under construction off the coast of France, and our first floating facility, also off France’s coast, secured funding in 2021 and is preparing for construction. These projects, which are being developed in partnership with large European energy companies and often include the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, are progressing on schedule with the first offshore wind project (St. Nazaire) expected to enter into service by the end of 2022.

We are a leader in establishing new energy technologies, including early investments and development of RNG, hydrogen and CCUS.

We’re creating partnerships to develop new sources of RNG that can be added to our natural gas transmission and distribution system. We are targeting a 5% blending of RNG in our utility’s system by 2028. We have several Canadian RNG ventures, including a partnership with Walker Industries and Comcor Environmental and a partnership with Vanguard Renewables to design and build eight RNG project sites across the United States. Under this agreement, Vanguard would build and operate digesters used to convert food and farm waste into RNG, while Enbridge would invest in the upgrading equipment that will turn RNG into pipeline-quality natural gas. We would also help transport and sell that natural gas to companies with decarbonization goals.

We believe that RNG provides a cost-effective way to reduce carbon in sectors like heavy transport and we are working with several municipalities to use RNG for their fleets. For example, the City of Toronto is now using carbon-negative RNG to fuel garbage trucks and the City of Hamilton is operating Ontario’s first carbon-negative bus, also fueled with RNG. Enbridge Gas also launched a voluntary RNG program in Ontario, OptUp, which invites its Ontario-based residential customers to pay an additional two dollars a month to help green the natural gas supply and support the Ontario government’s environment plan.

Our low-carbon portfolio

  Wind Solar & other RNG/H2
Capacity and equivalent homes powered by renewables
  • 4.9 GW (2 GW net)
  • >910,000 homes
  • 322 MW (217 MW net)
  • >55,000 homes
  • RNG: 1,400 GJ (Q1 2023)
  • H2: 283,000 kg since 2002
  • $7.6 billion
  • $0.985 billion
  • $0.1 billion
  • 20 operating
  • 4 in pre-construction and/or construction
  • 14 operating(1)
  • 10 in construction
  • 4 operating
  • 5 in construction

(1) Includes seven solar facilities, five waste heat recovery facilities, and a hydro and geothermal facility

Hydrogen represents a tremendous emissions reduction opportunity, and Enbridge was an early investor. We started building our hydrogen expertise in 2018 and—in partnership with Cummins—developed North America’s first utility-scale green power-to-gas plant in our distribution utility. Enbridge moves about 20% of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. and we’re working to determine how much hydrogen can be blended into our natural gas transmission and distribution system. In Quebec, we’ve partnered with Evolugen to produce and inject green hydrogen into Gazifère’s natural gas distribution network. We are part of several major blending studies to keep our pipes used and useful, including the HyBlend Study which was selected and awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2020.

We are also focused on CCUS, which allows us to leverage what we’re good at—namely, constructing, maintaining and operating pipelines and storage. In 2021, we signed agreements with Capital Power and LeHigh Cement to collaborate on CCUS solutions in the Wabamun area west of Edmonton, Alberta, near Capital Power’s Genesee Generating Station. We are partnering with the First Nation Capital Investment Partnership which would have equity ownership in the project.

We have been partnering with Smartpipe Technologies Inc. since 2013 on the development of Smartpipe technology. This technology has the ability to retrofit existing pipeline infrastructure for hydrogen and CO2 transportation. Using Smartpipe’s internal replacement sleeve could also result in less environmental disruptions for communities or environmentally sensitive areas and create less emissions from construction—with a 70% reduction in emissions compared to traditional construction methods. We also announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shell to develop low-carbon energy solutions across North America, leveraging both companies’ extensive experience and complementary assets. Under the MoU, we will explore opportunities to collaborate on potential green and blue hydrogen production, renewable power generation and CCUS opportunities.

Discover the potential of renewable hydrogen

The urgency of achieving net zero emissions has never been greater. As we transition toward a clean energy future, renewable hydrogen is emerging as the key to reducing emissions, storing renewable energy and enabling energy systems to work together in a way that’s viable and affordable.

Green hydrogen enters the energy mix

In January 2022, Enbridge Gas and our partner Cummins announced that North America’s first hydrogen blending initiative was fully operational and serving the southern Ontario city of Markham. We now have the capacity to deliver blended gas—that is, green hydrogen injected into the natural gas distribution network to reduce the fuel’s carbon footprint—to about 3,600 customers in Markham. It’s a prime example of how we’re using existing infrastructure to accelerate the energy transition. When we blend even a small percentage of hydrogen into the distribution system, we create the opportunity to scale hydrogen production and kickstart a hydrogen economy. The success of this project will enable us to validate and pursue larger-scale hydrogenblending activities in other parts of our distribution system.

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