Decarbonization 4 Noteworthy Solutions to Achieve your Net Zero Emission Goals

Source: Press release Ahlam Rais*

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Time is running out! We have to get our greenhouse emissions under control and eliminate it completely before it’s too late. The effects of climate change are already beginning to appear and, in this background, the most carbon-intensive sectors have undertaken sustainable business strategies to achieve their net zero goals but is it going to be enough? PROCESS Worldwide lists down four progressive solutions that will help industries to decarbonize their operations.

Achieving a net zero economy by 2050 by majority of the carbon-intensive sectors across the globe such as the chemicals and oil and gas industry is the only way to overcome this crisis and with the adoption of low or zero carbon solutions, this can be made possible.
Achieving a net zero economy by 2050 by majority of the carbon-intensive sectors across the globe such as the chemicals and oil and gas industry is the only way to overcome this crisis and with the adoption of low or zero carbon solutions, this can be made possible.
(Source: Teppakorn - stock.adobe.com )

‘Climate action failure’ dominates the ‘Top Long Term Global Risks’ (over the next 5 – 10 years) facing the world according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report 2022. Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group, mentioned in a WEF release “The climate crisis remains the biggest long-term threat facing humanity. Failure to act on climate change could shrink global GDP by one-sixth and the commitments taken at COP26 are still not enough to achieve the 1.5 C goal. It is not too late for governments and businesses to act on the risks they face and to drive an innovative, determined and inclusive transition that protects economies and people.”

Achieving a net zero economy by 2050 especially by majority of the carbon-intensive sectors across the globe such as the chemicals and oil and gas industry is the only way to overcome this crisis and with the adoption of low or zero carbon technologies/solutions as well as digital technologies, this can be made possible.

The decarbonizing solutions

Green hydrogen

Green hydrogen is expected to be the clean fuel of the future and many countries are actively looking to invest in it. The cost-effective ‘green hydrogen’ is produced through electrolysis which is powered by renewable energy and can then be used in power generation, transport, as well as other industries such as petrochemicals, food and beverages, medical, chemical, etc. to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Numerous green hydrogen projects are in the making. For instance, the Canadian firm Hydro-Québec intends to develop one of the world’s first and biggest production facilities for green hydrogen in Varennes, Quebec. The project will produce 11,000 plus metric tons of green hydrogen every year and deliver it to a biofuel production plant.

The Neom project is another prominent development that cannot be missed here. Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power together with Air Products plan to create a 5-billion-dollar world-scale green hydrogen and green ammonia plant in KSA. Expected to produce 650 tons of green hydrogen daily by electrolysis, the project will then convert it into 1.2 million tons of green ammonia annually which will then be exported to other international markets. The project will help to reduce over three million tons of CO2 emissions every year.

Adding to this, Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development have selected the construction engineering company Black & Veatch to carry out engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the world’s largest industrial green hydrogen production and storage facility in Delta, Utah, USA. In phase 1, the project is expected to convert 220 megawatts (MW) plus of renewable energy daily to 100 metric tons of green hydrogen.

In another project, Plug Power is developing a new green hydrogen production plant in Camden County, Georgia, USA. With a mammoth investment of 84 million dollars, the company intends to produce 15 tons of liquid green hydrogen daily at the facility which will cater to its southeastern U.S. customers. With this project, the company is all set to establish the first North American green hydrogen supply network.

Electrification

Electrification is the replacement of fossil fuel technologies with technologies that make use of electricity sourced from renewable energy or other low-carbon generation systems which assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the petrochemical industry, steam crackers are a core component which at present makes use of natural gas or methane to generate a large amount of heat. Now, renewable electricity can be used for the same process, thus, leading to the development of electric or e-crackers.

Although at a nascent stage, work on these green cracker projects have already begun. The European ‘Cracker of the Future’ consortium comprising of industry biggies such as Borealis, BP, Total Energies, Repsol and Versalis (Eni) are soon going to announce a breakthrough technology for the electrification of the steam cracking process. With the help of these green e-crackers, European companies which usually operate on fossil-naphtha feedstock, will be able to convert waste plastics into bio naphtha and pyrolysis oil. The technology is expected to be demonstrated by 2023.

Electric crackers enable key process routes for the circular economy.
Electric crackers enable key process routes for the circular economy.
(Source: © Brightlands )

Apart from this, the chemical leader BASF along with Sabic and Linde have collaborated to develop the world’s first electrically heated steam cracker furnace at BASF’s Ludwigshafen site in Germany. With this project, CO2 emissions can be reduced by as much as 90 %!

“This technology leap will be a milestone on the path to a low-emission chemical industry. We have not only developed the world’s first electrical heating concepts for steam crackers, but also want to demonstrate the reliability of key components for use in this type of high-temperature reactors. To be able to drive a timely scale-up and industrial implementation of this technology, investment support and competitive renewable energy prices will be important prerequisites,” said Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF in a company release. The start-up of this project is scheduled for 2023.

Dow and Shell have also entered into a partnership to accelerate the technology to electrify ethylene steam crackers. They are currently working on designing and scaling ‘e-cracker’ technologies.

CCUS

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is the process of capturing CO2 emissions from fossil power generation and industrial processes and then re-using it or storing it deep underground. According to market research firm, Allied Market Research, the global CCUS market generated 1.9 billion dollars in 2020, and is projected to reach 7.0 billion dollars by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 13.8 % from 2021 to 2030. It further adds that the oil & gas segment held the largest market share in 2020, holding nearly three-fifths of the total market share, and is expected to continue its leadership status during the forecast period. Moreover, this segment is projected to register the highest CAGR of 14.2 % from 2021 to 2030. One of the main drivers responsible for this growth is the increased focus on reducing CO2 emissions, adds the market research firm.

Live examples: The major oil firm BP has partnered with Linde to establish a major CCS project in Texas, USA. Once complete, the project will capture and store CO2 from Linde’s hydrogen production units in the greater Houston area as well as other facilities in the region to produce low carbon hydrogen. Scheduled to be operational by 2026, the project will have the capacity to store up to 15 million metric tons annually across multiple onshore geologic storage sites.

Recently, the US-based firm Exxon Mobil has announced that it plans to build one of the world’s largest CCS projects at its integrated refining and petrochemical site at Baytown, Texas, USA. The project is expected to transport and store up to 10 million metric tons of CO2 annually.

In terms of carbon capture solutions, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction together with the Zeeland Refinery, a joint venture between Total Energies and Lukoil, aim to provide a carbon capture and liquefaction solution in the Netherlands. The solution claims to capture more than 90 % of the emissions from hydrogen production and can capture more than 800,000 tons of CO2 annually.

Some of the other landmark projects in this space include Canada’s Alberta Carbon Trunk Line project, the world’s most recent large scale CCUS project which is estimated to capture and store more than one million tons of CO2 a year initially; the world’s largest cross-border CCS project in Belgium and China’s first megaton CCUS project – the Qilu-Shengli Oilfield CCUS which is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 1 million tons every year.

Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
(Source: IEA (2021), Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, All rights reserved. )

Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
(Source: IEA (2021), Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, All rights reserved. )

Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
(Source: IEA (2021), Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, All rights reserved. )

Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
(Source: IEA (2021), Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, All rights reserved. )

Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Interactive.
(Source: IEA (2021), Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, All rights reserved. )

Digital tools

Digital transformation of industries is the need of the hour and global players are constantly working to develop innovative solutions to achieve decarbonization or a net zero economy. Ineos’ Forties Pipeline System (FPS) has deployed Opex Group’s Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven optimization software technology – emissions.AI software at its Kinneil gas processing plant and oil terminal in Grangemouth, Scotland. The software technology can continuously monitor energy use across the terminal to identify potential opportunities to minimize fuel and power consumption and further optimize plant operations, thus lowering emissions. The AI-based technology claims to initially identify up to a 10 % reduction in existing emissions.

In addition to this, Microsoft has also teamed up with the carbon capture technology firm Aker Carbon Capture to explore opportunities in the CCUS market by making use of its digital capabilities of providing services such as traceability and data to ensure high-quality carbon credits.

Another digital tool is BASF’s highly energy-efficient gas treatment technology – ‘Oase sulfexx’ which helps firms to achieve their sulphur removal targets and at the same time reduces CO2 emissions for refiners and gas processors.

With the implementation of such next-gen and advanced solutions by numerous global industry players, one becomes hopeful that the industry can still manage to reach the net zero emission deadline of 2050.

* The author is a freelance editor at PROCESS Worldwide. Contact: ahlam.rais@vogel.com

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