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The Roads to Carbon Neutral - Season 4 - Episode 3 - Danish Fields: Charging Batteries With the Texas Sun

The Roads to Carbon Neutral - Season 4 - Episode 3

Danish Fields: Charging Batteries With the Texas Sun

The Roads to Carbon Neutral

The fourth season of our program entitled "The Roads to Carbon Neutral", in partnership with CNBC Catalyst, provides an insight into the solutions and innovations making the transition to low-carbon energy a reality and helping us achieve a carbon-neutral future. These powerful on-the-ground stories are led by TotalEnergies' employees.

For this third episode, we are heading to the Danish Fields solar farm in El Campo, near Houston, Texas. Olivia Topete, Project Manager - Renewables at TotalEnergies, and Stephanie Lengemann, Senior Program Manager at Saft, present the electricity production and storage solutions deployed at the site. By taking advantage of the Texas sunshine, Danish Fields is supplying renewable energy to the equivalent of 300,000 homes and enabling our industrial customers to move forward with their energy transition plans.

Olivia Topete
Project Manager TotalEnergies
One of the biggest misconceptions about Olympic weightlifting is that it's all about brute force, or just the power.
The technique and the mindset are just as important.
As a chemical engineer, I know a little bit about power.
There are a lot of parallels between what I do in lifting and what we're doing in the renewable industry.
We're constantly making incremental changes to become more efficient, more powerful and just better at what we do.
Houston gets approximately 200 days of sunshine per year when the sun isn't shining.
Our solar panels aren't generating as much power or energy.
In order to sort of combat that, we've begun installing battery storage on our projects.
There are some days when I get to Danish fields.
The sun is just rising and I realize the incredible scope of what we've accomplished here and invokes so much pride.
My heart didn't start out with chemical engineering.
I had My Portfolio ready.
I was on my way to art school and the Institute of Chicago, and then I discovered chemical engineering and organic chemistry.
And you know, chemical engineering, I will always say, is probably the most creative engineering discipline you can find.
It touches everything.
Renewables is just making its name.
That's super exciting because that leaves a lot of room for innovation and novel changes.
And that's where the creativity really comes in.
The utility scale solar that we were executing on even a year ago looks completely different to the utility scale that you'll see at Danish fields.
At peak capacity, Danish fields can power approximately 300,000 homes.
Houston is a very important place for the energy industry, but I think traditionally most people think of hydrocarbon or oil and gas, but total energies is really changing that landscape through renewables.
Between 2019 and 2021, Houston has actually doubled its solar capacity.
Danish is different in that we have both solar and battery storage.
We have 114 battery containers and each of those weighs about £80,000 each.
So they're huge.
SAFT is the company that is supplying our battery storage.
I work with Stephanie and she's just an incredible person.

Stéphanie Lengemann
Senior Program Manager
So as you know, the solar panels require the sun to produce.
The sun's not always there, Sometimes it's cloudy, sometimes it's night.
The batteries can absorb and provide power when you need it on demand.

Olivia Topete
We're helping some really large clients like Amazon decarbonize and that's really exciting.
We've also signed a long term agreement with Sango Bond, which is a global construction materials company and we're helping them offset 90,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year here in the power management system.

Stéphanie Lengemann
We've got a graph of the power.
Some of them we've ramped up to Max power.
That's indicative of how we can actually command the batteries on demand when we need them.

Olivia Topete
Weightlifting is a single person sport, but we have a team, we're there to support each other.
It's not just about, you know, how can I get better?
It's how can I make the rest of my team better.
And I think what's so amazing and exciting about the team that I have the opportunity to work with is that we all come from different engineering disciplines.
But we all want to make the world better.
And we all believe, and we're all passionate that we're doing that through renewables.

TotalEnergies has Texas clearly in its sights

We have been active in Texas for nearly 70 years. In that time, we have built up a strong position in the state, where we are now rolling out our strategy based on two focus areas, namely Oil & Gas - mainly liquefied natural gas (LNG) - and electricity (Integrated Power).

The Lone Star State is the second-largest state in the United States in terms of surface area, population (30 million) and electricity consumption (nearly 445 TWh in 2022). The Texas electricity market is the second largest in the United States and is expected to grow at a un rate of 2% per year. To provide our customers with electricity that is available 24/7 and increasingly carbon-free, we are developing a portfolio of renewable assets (4 GW) and gas-fired plants (1.5 GW) in Texas, including battery-based storage systems (300 MW installed).

Houston is an extremely important place for the energy industry, but traditionally most people tend to think of oil and gas. TotalEnergies is in the process of completely changing the landscape with renewable energies. Between 2019 and 2021, Houston actually doubled its solar capacity.
Olivia Topete Project Manager - Renewables, TotalEnergies

Danish Fields, TotalEnergies' largest solar power plant in the United States

Just a few miles from Houston, the Danish Fields solar power plant, which will be commissioned in the summer of 2024, covers almost 2,000 hectares. It develops a capacity of 720 MW and is reinforced with 150 MW of battery-based storage systems.

Since solar and wind energy are intermittent by nature, battery-based storage acts as an essential backup by ensuring that there is enough electricity in the grid, whatever the weather and at any time of day or night. The Danish Fields site is home to no fewer than 114 battery containers developed by Saft, which store and supply electricity to the grid when the sun is not shining or at night.

When the sun isn't shining, our solar panels don't produce as much electricity or energy, so to overcome that problem, we've started installing storage batteries supplied by Saft for our projects.
Olivia Topete Project Manager - Renewables, TotalEnergies

Solar energy to decarbonize our industrial customers' activities

We help our industrial customers lead their net zero strategies by offering them a range of best-fit solutions, including power purchase agreements for renewable electricity. They enable the energy produced from renewable production facilities to be injected into the power grid and then supplied to the customer while offering guarantees of origin that certify where the electricity has come from.

In 2023, we signed a 15-year renewable power purchase agreement with Saint-Gobain. Danish Fields plays a key role in this partnership. The renewable electricity generated by the plant will power Saint-Gobain's 125 North American sites, thereby helping reduce the building materials company's carbon emissions on the continent by 90,000 tons a year.

The Roads to Carbon Neutral

Watch the previous episodes