Air Liquide

RATING

SECTOR

Chemicals

WEBSITE

CONTACT

75 quai d’Orsay

75321 Paris cedex 07

T: +33 1 40 62 55 55

E: loubna.elmouatakid@airliquide.com (investor relations)

STOCK EXCHANGE

LISTING

  • CDP A List for climate & for water
  • Ecovadis GOLD 68%
  • MSCI A
  • Euronext Vigeoeiris Indices Eurozone 120
  • Euronext Vigeoeiris Indices Europe 120
  • ISS Climate C+

EMPLOYEES

67,200

CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER

David Meneses

AWARDS

  • EcoVadis Best Value Chain Management 2019
  • SPLC’s Best Overall Sustainable Purchasing Program
  • Responsible Investment Award 2019
  • Handeco’s Best Responsible Purchaser

CONTENT SOURCE

FURTHER READING

Air Liquide

SECTIONS :  Sustainability    Evaluation  •  Progress  •  Watch  •  Overview

Company Activity

Air Liquide aims to deliver innovative gas solutions and technologies to customers, driving their performance and helping them reduce their environmental impact. It helps them moving forward. Every day, Air Liquide assists a large number of industries. Its commitment remains the same for each customer: improve their competitiveness, contribute to the quality of their products and their growth and optimize their performance.

Industrial gases have been at the heart of Air Liquide’s activity since its creation in 1902. Today, its employees and distribution network serve more than 2 million customers, from multinational corporations to independent craftsmen, in 80 countries. It provides innovative solutions to a great variety of customers at every step of production, including industrial and specialty gases, energy solutions, application technologies and services. No matter where, it makes sure its solutions are safe, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable. Through its expertise, it enables its customers to focus on their core businesses, and it provides solutions that increase their competitiveness.

World class expertise for reliable and flexible gas supply

Air Liquide has the world class expertise and flexibility in gas supply needed by industrial actors. Its supply chain is backed by standardized technologies, qualification processes and information systems that ensure reliability and safety while optimizing logistics. Thanks to its streamlined operations and its presence in the major international industrial basins, it is able to reduce its environmental footprint while delivering gases anytime, anywhere. 

To this end, Air Liquide is a partner of choice for industrial actors. It accompanies its customers and provides advanced capabilities from dedicated on-site supply and extended pipeline networks to individual packaged gas. 

The benchmark in pipeline supply

Air Liquide’s customers with large volume requirements (especially in the chemicals, metals and refining industries) can benefit from the power of plants connected to pipeline networks in a shared industrial basin. For the past 40 years, it has built a robust pipeline network. Today, it runs three major networks spanning over 9,000 kilometers that allow it to keep its customer’s operations running steadily. These networks stretch over the Gulf Coast in the United States, northern Europe (France, Belgium, Netherlands) and the Ruhr Valley in Germany, in particular. 

A pipeline gas supply operated non-stop is the most efficient and reliable way of delivering gases to large industrial customers. Air Liquide’s unmatched network of production units and pipelines enables it to supply the world’s major industrial clusters and guarantee maximum reliability and an interrupted supply of gas to its customers over the long term. 

Air Liquide can also supply very large quantities of gas directly from dedicated on-site plans which consist of gas production units installed directly on customer premises. Its supply offer for very large industries is centered upon three types of production solutions, all backed by state of the art gas technologies:

  • Air separation units (ASU): an ASU compresses, liquefies and distills air in order to separate its different components (mainly oxygen, nitrogen, argon)
  • Steam methane reformers (SMR): an SMR produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide by reforming steam and methane
  • Cogeneration consists of simultaneously and efficiently producing electricity and steam by consuming natural gas and water. Electricity is supplied to the local network while steam is required for certain industrial processes. 

Premium packaged gas solutions

Air Liquide designs and produces the market’s safest, most ergonomic, user-friendly cylinders and valves for small, medium and mobile gas needs.

For customers whose gas consumption does not exceed 5,000m³ a year, it offers advanced packages including:

  • SMARTOP™, its cutting-edge, smart residual pressure valve. It features on/off lever and permanent content gauge. SMARTOP™ is included in their ARCAL™ shielding gases and ALPHAGAZ™ pure gases premium offers
  • ALTOP™, the world’s first built-in regulator with an on/off lever: as one of their best-sellers, it is available in over 35 countries
  • EXELTOP™, the next generation built-in regulator.

Services

The group helps its clients to better manage their logistics and stocks through:

  • Optimized inventory management and cylinder tracking
  • Automatic re-ordering and tank-level monitoring for bulk supply using sell powered wireless telemetry units
  • Tele-monitored performance tracking for on-site gas generation.

Company Sustainable Activity

THE AIR LIQUIDE FOUNDATION: 

Created in 2008, the Air Liquide Foundation represents the Group’s commitment to being a responsible enterprise. The Air Liquide Foundation provides financial, material and Human Resources means to the projects which it supports in the countries where the Group is present. Its action is in line with the Group’s Sustainable Development strategy which aims to improve air quality, prevent global warming and strengthen its commitment to stakeholders. 

Its missions include: 

  • Environment: supporting scientific research projects in the environmental protection field that contribute to preserving the planet’s atmosphere, and in particular air quality;
  • Health/breathing: supporting scientific research projects aimed at improving respiratory function and gas metabolism in the human body in the healthcare and exploration fields (space, deep-sea).

The impact of Air Liquide’s activities on biodiversity is limited because the Group’s production units are generally located on sites in industrial areas. However, Air Liquide supports biodiversity preservation via its Foundation, which funds scientific research projects around the world relating to air quality as well as local development projects to do with the environment. In recent years, the Air Liquide Foundation has sponsored the following projects:

  • the work of the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and WWF France respectively on mangroves in the Indo-Pacific region and the Indonesian and Gabonese forests. These works quantify and qualify the carbon cycle of mangroves and forests with the aim of protecting these ecosystems which are home to a wide range of biodiversity;
  • the studies carried out by the Sorbonne University and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) on methane concentrations and flux in the marine environment and the presence of plastic particles in the atmosphere;
  • social projects around organic market gardening. 

A number of employees with a desire to act for greater sustainability within Air Liquide have also organized local initiatives linked to biodiversity:

  • nine tree planting initiatives have taken place within the Group, in Japan, Singapore, China, Portugal, Spain, France, Ghana and Madagascar. The actions were carried out as part of reforestation or employee environmental awareness programs;
  • Air Liquide Singapore has financed a marine biodiversity study combining 10 autonomous reef monitoring structures, directed by the National Parks Board of Singapore. Volunteers from Air Liquide took part in the sorting of specimens from Singapore’s corals and seabed.

PREVENTING GLOBAL WARMING AND IMPROVING AIR QUALITY

As part of its global approach to climate, Air Liquide is presenting the most ambitious objectives in its sector. The Group’s commitments seek not only to reduce the carbon intensity of its assets, but also to act with its customers towards a sustainable industry and to contribute to the development of low-carbon society with the Ecosystems that are a part of it.
These objectives named “ACE” break down as follows:

Assets: In 2019, the carbon intensity is 4.6, which represents a 27% reduction compared to the 2015 carbon intensity. In its production, distribution and services activities, Air Liquide is committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 30% by 2025, based on 2015 emissions.

Within its activities, including production, distribution and services, Air Liquide is committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 30% by 2025, based on its 2015 emission levels. These objectives will be reached notably by:

  • Increasing by nearly 70% its purchase of renewable electricity (from 6 to 10 TWh/year)
  • Reducing by 5% the energy consumption per volume of production of its units.
  • Reducing by 10% the carbon footprint of its bulk and cylinder products through the optimization of both production and transportation. 

Air Liquide, the Durance, Luberon, Verdon urban area (DLVA) and ENGIE sign a cooperation agreement to develop the “HyGreen Provence” project which aims at producing, storing, and distributing green hydrogen.

Initiated in 2017, “HyGreen Provence” should make it possible to develop and validate the technico-economic conditions for the production of 1,300 GWh of solar electricity, equivalent to the annual residential consumption of about 450,000 people, together with the production of renewable hydrogen on an industrial scale through water electrolysis. The project will be developed in several stages with the first deliverables envisaged by the end of 2021 and a possible final stage in 2027. In the long term, several tens of thousands of metric tons of renewable hydrogen could be produced in this way every year to meet a very broad spectrum of uses.

In Canada, Air Liquide is investing to improve the efficiency of the Hamilton ASU and reduce its CO2 emissions.

The Group is investing 5.8 million euros to install a new nitrogen compressor, which will replace the current set up of five compressors. This should reduce the electric consumption of the site by some 2 MW, which would lead to annual energy savings (of around 1 million dollars per year) and a reduction in indirect CO2 emissions of around 1,350 tons per year.

A lower environmental impact for the transportation of bulk and cylinder products

As part of its approach of reducing its carbon footprint on bulk and cylinder products, the Group has asked its carriers to convert their fleet of trucks to alternative fuels. This trust-based relationship has, for example, enabled near 40% of trucks in Spain and Portugal to be converted to natural gas, which is currently the best alternative fuel in these countries.

Customers: With its customers, the Group is committed to working towards a clean and sustainable industry. Thanks to its essential molecules management (oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide…) and the in-depth knowledge of its customers’ processes, Air Liquide offers technologies which allow them to improve the energy efficiency of their industrial processes and reduce their emissions.

As part of the Climate objectives, the Group has stepped up its aims of developing new offers.

  • The injection of hydrogen in blast furnaces and the use of its enScribe technology in electronics could have a major impact on the reduction of its customers’ emissions. 
  • Air Liquide has also positioned itself on emissions capture technologies for their storage or use (CCUS), which helps reduce their environmental footprint when there is no other alternative. 

Customer gas supply outsourcing contracts.

In 2019, Air Liquide signed a new long-term contract with Pemex Transformación Industrial, a subsidiary of national oil and gas company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), for the hydrogen supply of the PEMEX refinery located in Tula de Allende (State of Hidalgo) in central Mexico. With an investment of 50 million euros for the acquisition and optimization of an existing hydrogen production unit, this contract will enable Air Liquide to strengthen its presence in central Mexico while improving the energy efficiency of these units. Another example in Kazakhstan where, under a new long-term agreement with Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries (KPI), Air Liquide Munay Tech Gases will build, own and operate a new nitrogen unit in the growing chemical basin of Karabatan, close to the Atyrau refinery.

Air Liquide and thyssenkrupp Steel, a global leader in rolled flat carbon steel, join forces in a pioneering project to produce low-carbon steel.

For the first time, hydrogen will be injected on a large scale to partially replace pulverized coal in blast furnaces during steel production.

Air Liquide will ensure a stable supply of hydrogen from its 200-km pipeline network in the Rhine-Ruhr area. This solution will be implemented at one of the blast furnaces in thyssenkrupp’s integrated steel mills at the Duisburg site in Germany. Testing began at the end of 2019. thyssenkrupp aims to reduce CO2 emissions from the steel production process by up to 20% once this solution is rolled out to all of the site’s blast furnaces.

Air Liquide partners with ArcelorMittal in the first industrial scale plant on a pilot project to reduce carbon emissions from the production of steel and recycle them into advanced bioethanol.

As part of this project, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction will provide a technological solution that purifies off gas coming from the blast furnace. These gases will then be injected into a bioreactor to produce bioethanol. This technology leverages Air Liquide’s extensive know-how and illustrates its capacity to develop sustainable solutions supporting its customers in the steel industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Its implementation at ArcelorMittal’s steel plant in Ghent, Belgium, will make it the first European industrial scale demonstration plant to produce bioethanol from waste gases from the steelmaking process. Construction of the facility is underway and it should be operational at the end of 2020. In the long term, the site should produce 80 million liters of bioethanol per year.

Air Liquide is collaborating with Equinor and its partners (Shell and Total) on the Northern Lights project, a CO2 capture and storage project.

This project is aimed at developing offshore CO2 storage on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and has the potential to be the first storage site in the world to receive CO2 from industrial sources in several European countries. Under this memorandum of understanding, the parties will explore the possibility of cooperating in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) development, which also includes CO2 capture, liquefaction, and transportation to an offshore natural reservoir.

Ecosystems: With ecosystems, via an active dialog with key players (public policymakers, industrial partners, NGOs, etc.), Air Liquide is contributing to the development of a low-carbon society by: 

  • Developing biomethane for industry and transport
  • Proposing alternative solutions for refrigerated logistics
  • Promoting hydrogen- in particular carbon-free hydrogen- which will play a key role in the fight against climate change and energy transition, with regards to both mobility and energy. 

Air Liquide and Sinopec (China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.) signed in Beijing, in the presence of Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, a memorandum of understanding to help accelerate the deployment of hydrogen mobility solutions in China.

The leaders of Air Liquide and Sinopec have agreed to consider the development of a network dedicated to hydrogen mobility and the improvement of the regulatory framework essential to the development of hydrogen energy in China, the world’s largest mobility market.

As part of this agreement, Air Liquide will bring to Sinopec its expertise in the hydrogen supply chain, from production to storage and distribution, in order to provide competitive hydrogen supply solutions to the Chinese clean mobility market.

Air Liquide makes a strategic investment in the production of decarbonated hydrogen by electrolysis.

Air Liquide announces that it has acquired an 18.6% stake in the capital of the Canadian company Hydrogenics Corporation, a specialist in electrolysis hydrogen production equipment and fuel cells. This strategic operation, which corresponds to an investment of 20.5 million US dollars (18 million euros), enables the Group to reaffirm its long-term commitment to the hydrogen energy markets and its ambition to be a major player in the supply of decarbonated hydrogen, particularly for industry and mobility markets

Hydrogen Council

Launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in early 2017, the Hydrogen Council is the first global initiative of its kind to show that hydrogen is one of the key solutions for the energy transition. The Council is currently composed of more than 81 members, including Air Liquide. The initiative is growing rapidly with 22 new members, including many investors, joining the Hydrogen Council.

Deployed on a large scale, hydrogen could account for nearly one-fifth of the total energy consumed by 2050. This would reduce annual CO2 emissions by about 6 gigatonnes from current levels and contribute to 20% of the reduction required to limit global warming to 2°C by 2100. Hydrogen could generate a turnover of US$2.5 trillion and create more than 30 million jobs by 2050

Strengthening dialog with stakeholders

The Group has set itself the following Human Resources objectives for 2025:

  • 35% of women among managers and professionals in the Group’s employees
  • 33% of recruitment of young graduates. 

Certificates

  • FSSC 22000
  • ISO 22000

Sustainable Development Goals

How company covers SDGs

SDG 9/13/17: Contribute to the reduction of industrial emissions

The use of industrial gases during certain processes and over-the-fence supply of products and services enable the Group’s industrial customers to reduce their greenhouse gas and atmospheric pollutant emissions.

  • The use of oxygen to reduce CO2 emissions 

Air Liquide supplies the steel industry with significant volumes of oxygen to reduce CO2 emissions during oxy-combustion processes: Q the injection of oxygen in blast furnaces reduces the consumption of coke, whose production and use release an important volume of CO2 and other pollutants, by partially replacing it with pulverized coal or natural gas; Q the use of oxygen in electric furnace burners can significantly reduce their consumption of electricity.

  • Over-the-fence supply: an efficient solution for the planet 

Air Liquide is well known for its expertise and the efficiency of its processes and produces the necessary industrial gases to meet its customers’ needs. This helps significantly reduce energy and raw material consumption and, as a result, the CO2 emissions of the entire value chain. In total, 4.6 Mt of CO2 emission have been avoided in this way (see details page 85). So, even though Air Liquide’s GHG emissions tend to increase with the volumes of industrial gases produced, this over-the-fence supply nevertheless minimizes the global environmental footprint of its customers’ products.

  • The CO2 market

Recovering CO2 involves using it as a raw material in the food, chemical and transport industries. It is a promising market: in 2017, 3.5 million tons of CO2 were purified and delivered to customers by Air Liquide. 

In France, Air Liquide operates the first commercial CO2 capture unit using a cryogenic process at a hydrogen production unit. Cryocap™ H2 captures up to 90% of CO2 emissions while at the same time increasing production at the hydrogen unit by 5%. Cryocap™ captures 100,000 tons of CO2 each year, which is used by the region’s greenhouses and by the food industry for the carbonation of sparkling drinks. 

Air Liquide has adapted the Cryocap™ technology to electrical power plants, thus providing its customers in this industry the ability to capture large quantities of CO2 and reduce their atmospheric emissions. This technology is called Cryocap™ Oxy. 

CO2 is becoming a commodity for manufacturing concrete for construction. The partnership between Air Liquide and US start-up Solidia Technologies develops and markets a “sustainable concrete”. Solidia’s process, which hardens concrete with CO2 instead of water, reduces the environmental footprint of the pre-cast concrete by up to 70%. 

This technology also reduces the hardening time of the concrete to less than 24 hours and the required amount of water. In addition to capturing large quantities of CO2, the quality of the concrete achieved is greatly improved.

  • Hydrogen for sustainable steel production

Steel is an essential material in modern life. Steel recycling is already well organized, but its production generates very high levels of CO2. Air Liquide has been exchanging and working in R&D for many years with its customers in the steel industry to implement solutions aimed at reducing these CO2 emissions. For example, Air Liquide was part of the ULCOS European consortium which studies more than 80 innovative technologies aimed at achieving this goal. 

The use of hydrogen produced by water and electricity electrolysis is a promising approach to reducing industrial CO2 emissions. Hydrogen injected into a traditional blast furnace helps reduce coal consumption and therefore the quantity of CO2 emitted per ton of steel (a 10-15% reduction could be possible). 

Another solution which could help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%, is in the preliminary research phase at several major steel groups. This solution involves using hydrogen, again produced in a carbon-free manner, to achieve the direct reduction of iron ore (or “DRI”) without the use of coal.

Today’s challenge is therefore to create favorable economic conditions so that these virtuous technologies are optimized via test and pilot schemes, then rolled out. 

Air Liquide has used medium-sized electrolyzers for on-site hydrogen production for many years. To meet the needs of the iron industry, large scale projects are currently being studied. 

  • Water treatment solutions at customers’ sites 

Only 64% of the world’s population has access to drinking water and 80% of wastewater is discharged into the environment without any treatment. Moreover, the world’s population is expected to increase from 7.5 to 9 billion inhabitants by 2050, but the quantity of available fresh water will remain the same. Finally, the scarcity of water and environmental challenges are leading industrial players to seek reliable  (a) Water Quality and Wastewater on unwater.org (2017, Unesco). and economic technologies to treat and recycle water. Air Liquide has been a benchmark in water treatment for 35 years, and provides its customers with adapted solutions for the production of drinking water, the treatment of wastewater, cooling water and pH testing:

  • using pure oxygen to replace the air injected into the biological basins that are used in the wastewater treatment process increases the basins’ treatment capacity by up to 50%;
  • Air Liquide helps replace mineral acids with carbon dioxide in order to test the pH value of the water (and therefore its acidity) in a safer and more environmentally friendly manner;
  • to eliminate bacteria and viruses, the Group produces and sells ozone which, thanks to its greater oxidizing power than chlorine for example, disinfects water quicker and without leaving a residual smell or taste. This also improves the efficiency of later treatment.

SDG 7/11/12/13: Develop products with a low environmental footprint 

The Group’s energy procurement policy favors the purchase of electricity from suppliers who have made the choice to produce low-carbon solutions. Each time an electricity supply contract is up for renewal and for each new contract, Air Liquide always takes into account the suppliers’ primary energy mix to assess and select its electricity suppliers. In 2017, this criterion was decisive for the renewal of contracts in Germany and Chile. Moreover, to step up the pace of the transition towards supplying electricity with lower carbon content, Air Liquide launched an initiative in 2017 to sign renewable electricity procurement agreements with competitive wind and/or solar power suppliers. This initiative has already helped identify major opportunities, which should lead to procurement decisions in 2018. 

By taking into account the different natures of primary energy used to produce electricity in the countries where Air Liquide is present, it is then possible to calculate a global breakdown by nature of the electricity used. This calculation takes into account the electricity produced from natural gas by the Group’s cogeneration units. In 2017, 20% of electricity consumed was from a renewable source and 36% from natural gas composed mainly of methane, a molecule which contains a carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, the combustion of which generates around two-times less CO2 emissions than coal per kWh of electricity produced. Moreover, the combustion of natural gas produces small amounts of atmospheric pollutants.

  • Energy production through cogeneration 

Certain technologies developed by the Group allow energy to be produced in a cleaner manner. Cogeneration units operated by Air Liquide produce heat and electricity simultaneously. They consume natural gas and water, mostly converted into steam and supplied to customers. The steam can be condensed in customers’ processes and then reused in the cogeneration unit. In most cases, the electricity produced is supplied to the local electricity distribution network, which in some countries can be used to power other units of the Group. Combustion of natural gas produces CO2 and leads to low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, but practically no sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions.

  • The Green Origin offer 

The Green Origin offer, which is marketed in certain countries, is an additional option for standard liquid industrial gases supply agreements, to guarantee that these gases are entirely produced using renewable energies. The energy required to produce and transport the gases in this offer is compensated by the purchase of renewable energy certificates and CO2 emission rights. Air Liquide thus contributes to the development of renewable energies and provides its customers with the possibility of improving the environmental footprint of their supply chain. As part of this offer, a certificate is given to customers by an external control organization.

  • Greenhouse gas emissions avoided in operations

In 2015, the Group introduced a detailed methodology in order to assess the corresponding avoided CO2 emissions. This assessment is carried out within the Large Industries activity, which represents 90% of the Group’s energy consumption, and thus CO2 emissions. The methodology is based on an analysis of the total volume of industrial gases supplied to customers over 2017, site by site and customer by customer, i.e., at over 1,400 delivery points per pipeline. For each customer facility, they assess the emissions of the reference system by modeling the energy consumption and CO2 emissions, both direct and indirect, that would be generated by a production unit dedicated to supplying the facility. This model is based on a protocol which takes into account the latest developments in terms of energy efficiency, as well as the size and type of production unit. 

Air Liquide therefore estimates that the total emissions avoided by its production operations in 2017 were 4.6 million tons of CO2, most of which is broken down as follows: 

  • 1.4 million tons of indirect CO2 emissions for the supply of air gases; 
  • 2.2 million tons of direct CO2 emissions for the supply of hydrogen and carbon monoxide; 
  • 0.9 million tons of direct CO2 emissions for cogeneration units that produce steam and electricity from natural gas simultaneously, which are on average 20% more efficient in terms of CO2 emissions than technologies which produce steam and electricity separately. 

Moreover, in the Industrial Merchant activity, small on-site nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen units reduced truck deliveries, a source of CO2 emissions. In 2017, these on-site units saved 57.2 million kilometers in truck deliveries, thus avoiding 57,500 tons of CO2 emissions. 

  • Water management

With regard to air separation units, there are several types of cooling systems. Around 82% of these units have semi-open water recirculating systems which require back-up water. Around 8% of these units have open systems. In such cases, water comes from natural resources or third-party industrial systems. It is discharged back into the original source, without causing pollution or changing the water’s physicalchemical characteristics. Lastly, around 6% of these units have closed systems that consume no water. 4% of Air Liquide’s sites are located in countries that, according to the World Resources Institute, will be under extremely high water stress in 2020. Today, this represents 6% of the annual water consumption of Air Liquide’s industrial sites. 

Air Liquide Large Industry production plants manage their fresh water supplies to minimise water usage by efficient water recycling and minimal non-polluting water discharge, returning it to the original source or to an authorised municipal or client treatment plant. Water consumption is typically through evaporation for process cooling and steam generation or as a raw material for production of hydrogen. Where appropriate the required process cooling may be achieved using closed cooling circuits which do not consume water at all, or in coastal regions by sea water cooling.

SDG 9/11/13/17: Solutions for clean transport

Global warming and air pollution make the transition towards new modes of transport necessary. The mobility of people and goods account for the emission of around 7.5 GtCO2 per year. In response to this challenge, Air Liquide provides efficient solutions which will help reduce the carbon footprint of transport. Converting 10% of transportation to low-carbon or carbon-free hydrogen would help avoid annual emissions of 750Mt of CO2-equivalent and significantly improve air quality.

  • Hydrogen

Hydrogen has serious potential to meet the challenges of clean transport: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, urban pollution through particles and noise, and dependency on oil-based fuels. Air Liquide is a committed player in the hydrogen energy sector thanks to its expertise and management of the entire chain: production, storage, distribution and use by the end customer. For example, the Group is part of the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative which brings together energy, transport and industry leaders, for which one of its aims is to highlight that hydrogen is one of the key solutions in the energy transition. In this respect, the Hydrogen Council aims to:

  • intensify investments in the development and marketing of hydrogen and fuel cells;
  • encourage decision-makers to increase their support for the role of hydrogen in the future energy mix, in particular through public policies and relevant programs

Hydrogen-powered cars produce their own electricity “on board” through a fuel cell powered by hydrogen. In addition to enjoying similar performance characteristics as a classic car, hydrogen-powered vehicles are also silent and only discharge water. They are very efficient over long distances which currently represent 75% of CO2 emissions in the transport sector. One hydrogen recharge, which takes less than 5 minutes, already provides cars currently on the market with a range of more than 500 kilometers. In addition to the passenger vehicle market, Air Liquide also provides charging stations for buses, in particular in Norway.

A growing network

Air Liquide participates to the development of hydrogen distribution infrastructures in Germany (400 stations by 2023 through the H2 Mobility initiative), France (100 stations by 2022 and 600 by 2030 according to the Mobilité Hydrogène France plan), Japan, North East Europe and the United States. To date, Air Liquide has already developed and installed almost 100 hydrogen stations worldwide. Air Liquide thus contributes, alongside automobile makers and public authorities, to the development of hydrogen energy. 

HYPE: hydrogen taxis in Paris 

STEP (Société du Taxi Electrique Parisien), which has Air Liquide among its shareholders, is deploying its fleet of hydrogen-powered electric taxis in Paris and currently has almost 75 taxis on the capital’s roads. These taxis refuel at two hydrogen charging stations that Air Liquide developed and installed, one in central Paris and the other at Orly airport. 

  • Biomethane

Recovery of biogas Air Liquide promotes several initiatives which follow the circular economy model, such as the recovery of biogas. In cooperation with various partners, Air Liquide recovers waste products by transforming them into biogas using a methanization process. This biogas is then injected into the natural gas pipeline system or distributed to end customers with biomethane stations or clean multi-energy stations. The end customer is often the producer of the waste products and therefore completes the loop of the circular economy. 

In 2017, Air Liquide continued to invest in Scandinavia, an advanced market in this field, by acquiring a majority stake in Norwegian company Skagerak Naturgass SA, a subsidiary of Skagerak Energi which belongs to the Statkraft Group, the leading European producer of renewable energies.

Air Liquide continues to support the growth of this offering with the opening in 2018 of new hydrogen charging stations in the Paris region, in particular near Versailles and at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. 

Blue Hydrogen® is an Air Liquide initiative that aims to gradually lower the carbon content of Air Liquide’s hydrogen production dedicated to energy applications. Concretely, Air Liquide is committed to achieving at least 50% of low carbon (a) hydrogen necessary for these applications by 2020, by combining: Q the use of low carbon energies, water electrolysis and reforming of biogas; Q carbon capture and valorization technologies for the CO2 emitted during the production of hydrogen from natural gas. 

SDG 3/4/10

Air Liquide’s local presence Air Liquide’s teams across the globe are wholeheartedly committed to playing their part in the local economic life. This participation includes hiring employees in the area and developing close relations with training organizations and universities that can prepare people for the Group’s core businesses. 

Air Liquide supplies more than two million industrial customers, major companies, SMEs, craftsmen, and others thanks to the large diversity of its industrial gas applications. The Group provides solutions which are adapted to the competitive or innovative needs of each customer and supports them in their development. In healthcare, Air Liquide is present in the development of infrastructures by supplying medical gases and dedicated equipment to hospitals and by training their staff in their use. The Home Healthcare activity, where Air Liquide cares for more than 1.5 million patients with chronic diseases, is an exceptional outreach activity, with a very strong human dimension. Air Liquide employees regularly visit each patient in their homes, provide advice to them and their relatives on their treatment, discuss with their doctor, all in the aim of helping each patient live with his or her condition as best as possible. 

In addition, the Group’s activities, as well as the means implemented in order to prevent and manage industrial risks, are regularly presented to the populations near Air Liquide’s sites. In France, the industrial sites participate in two local committees, CLICs and CLIEs. These committees provide information and regulatory consultations at the communes’ initiative, with the aim of providing transparent information on their activities to representatives of the local populations.

Progress

AirLiquide holds significant certificates and awards. Its objectives towards sustainability are clear and relevant: they want to reduce their carbon intensity by 30% by 2025, and had made a progress of 22% in 2018. They also partner up with organisations for the preservation of ecosystems. However, by providing on-site gas production units for various gases, Air Liquide is part of an industry that is in direct conflict with SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13: Climate 13 and SDG 15: Life on Land. Indeed, Natural Gas is a fossil fuel and its drilling and extraction from wells and its transportation in pipelines result in the leakage of methane, that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years. The drilling of gas can harm local ecosystems by fragmenting wildlife habitats and migration patterns. For these reasons, Air Liquide gets the rating C.

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