03 Jul 2023, 14:16
Carolina Kyllmann

Recycling, electrification, renewable raw materials key for climate neutral chemicals industry – report

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s chemical industry will have to place a strong focus on recycling of products, the switch to electricity-based process heat and the use of renewable raw materials on its way to climate neutrality, according to a report by think tank Agora Energiewende. Green hydrogen alone it is not enough to decarbonise the industry, the report warned. Chemical companies will have to become independent of fossil raw materials and eliminate their emissions by 2040, which mostly come from upstream and downstream processes such as the extraction of raw materials for basic chemicals and the incineration of chemical products at the end of their useful life, according to the think tank. “We urgently need a transformation roadmap for a highly competitive climate-neutral chemical industry in Germany,” head at Agora Industry Frank Peter said.

The entire lifecycle of chemicals should be taken into account to reach climate neutral chemical products, the report authors wrote. This could be achieved by electrifying the generation of process heat to reduce natural gas demand; by improving recycling to minimise energy and raw material demand; and by using renewable resources such as sustainable biomass to reduce demand for green hydrogen. However, policy measures are needed: “The German government has a responsibility to quickly create the regulatory framework for a climate-neutral chemical industry and thus strengthen competitiveness and innovative strength,” Peter said. “An energy- and resource-efficient circular economy based on renewable energies and renewable raw materials paves the way for a climate-positive chemical industry.”

Germany’s chemical industry currently causes emissions of up to 112 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents directly and indirectly, according to Germany’s science academy acatech.

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