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The Role of Hydrogen for the Defossilization of the German Chemical Industry


Within the European Green Deal, the European industry is summoned to transform towards a green and circular economy to reduce CO2-emissions and reach climate goals. Special focus is on the chemical industry to boost recycling processes for plastics, exploit resource efficiency potentials, and switch to a completely renewable feedstock (defossilization). Despite common understanding that drastic changes have to take place it is yet unknown how the industrial transformation should be accomplished. This work explains how a cost-optimal defossilization of the chemical industry in the context of national greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies look like. The central part of this investigation is based on a national energy system model to optimize the future energy system design of Germany, as a case study for a highly industrialized country. A replacement of fossil-based feedstocks by renewable feedstocks leads to a significant increase in hydrogen demand by þ40% compared to a reference scenario. The resulting demand of hydrogen-based energy carriers, including the demand for renewable raw materials, must be produced domestically or imported. This leads to cumulative additional costs of the transformation that are 32% higher than those of a reference scenario without defossilization of the industry. Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and the methanol-to-olefins route can be identified as key technologies for the defossilization of the chemical industry.

Funding source: This work was supported by the Helmholtz Association under the program “Energy System Design”.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany

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