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Zero-Emission Pathway for the Global Chemical and Petrochemical Sector


The chemical and petrochemical sector relies on fossil fuels and feedstocks, and is a major source of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions. The techno-economic potential of 20 decarbonisation options is assessed. While previous analyses focus on the production processes, this analysis covers the full product life cycle CO2 emissions. The analysis elaborates the carbon accounting complexity that results from the non-energy use of fossil fuels, and highlights the importance of strategies that consider the carbon stored in synthetic organic products—an aspect that warrants more attention in long-term energy scenarios and strategies. Average mitigation costs in the sector would amount to 64 United States dollars (USD) per tonne of CO2 for full decarbonisation in 2050. The rapidly declining renewables cost is one main cause for this low-cost estimate. Renewable energy supply solutions, in combination with electrification, account for 40% of total emissions reductions. Annual biomass use grows to 1.3 gigatonnes; green hydrogen electrolyser capacity grows to 2435 gigawatts and recycling rates increase six-fold, while product demand is reduced by a third, compared to the reference case. CO2 capture, storage and use equals 30% of the total decarbonisation effort (1.49 gigatonnes per year), where about one-third of the captured CO2 is of biogenic origin. Circular economy concepts, including recycling, account for 16%, while energy efficiency accounts for 12% of the decarbonisation needed. Achieving full decarbonisation in this sector will increase energy and feedstock costs by more than 35%. The analysis shows the importance of renewables-based solutions, accounting for more than half of the total emissions reduction potential, which was higher than previous estimates.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany

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