The chemical industry needs energy in its processes and has a strong track record in reducing energy consumption through innovation and manufacturing excellence. In fact, since 1990, the chemical sector has effectively decoupled production from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The European Commission’s Energy Union strategy, adopted in February 2015, dedicates one of its five dimensions to research, innovation and competitiveness. The integrated Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan plays a central role in a new European energy Research and Innovation approach designed to accelerate the transformation of our energy system.
Sustainable chemistry solutions
SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) dedicates a chapter to the challenge of, and solutions for, Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy. The chapter covers energy efficiency in chemical processes and proposed solutions that are key to the competitiveness of the chemical industry. It also describes how the industry’s technologies and products contribute to energy efficiency and clean energy productions and storage for the wider society.
Examples of innovations that will contribute to further improving energy and resource efficiency in the chemical sector include:
- Increased energy efficiency of process technologies through advanced high performance catalysis, process intensification, and advanced process modelling and control.
- Better utilisation of alternative sources of carbon such as biomass, waste, and industrial gaseous effluents (including CO2).
- Industrial symbiosis making connections with and across industries for improved energy and resource efficiency via better valorisation of heat, improved water management and use of materials from waste and side streams.
The chemical industry is a key solution provider in virtually all value chains, with technologies and advanced materials that enable Europe to be a world leader in renewable energy such as:
- Advanced materials for sustainable production of renewable electricity including new composites for wind turbine blades and materials for photovoltaic technologies including recyclability of materials.
- Advanced materials and technologies for renewable energy storage including materials for advanced batteries, chemical energy storage through advanced materials and process technologies (hydrogen and CO2 based energy carriers via power-to-gas and power-to-liquid technologies), and novel thermal storage of energy via phase change materials or via reversible thermochemical reaction.
- In addition sustainable chemistry provides energy efficiency solutions for buildings such as advanced materials for thermal insulation, highly energy efficient lighting, and phase change materials for thermal storage. Chemistry is also key to better energy efficiency in water treatment, for example by development of advanced membranes for water purification.
- Chemistry is also key to more sustainable transport systems by providing lightweight materials, materials for more fuel efficient tyres, advanced materials and process technologies for battery production and sustainable alternative fuels for transport including CO2 based fuels such as methanol, methane, gasoline and kerosene.
In order for the chemical industry to make an effective impact on the development of a low carbon economy, support for technology development (including to achieve breakthroughs) and an appropriate policy framework (to ensure market uptake) will be required.
A sustainability based approach for policy development involving the integration of all aspects of sustainability (environment, economy, social) and integration of lifecycle concept is essential to evaluate the impact of innovative technologies and the development of an effective strategy and policy framework.
Coherence and stability over time for the policy framework is critical to contribute fully to a sustainable economy and address climate goals This means that a variety of policies have to be developed in coordination such as those on energy, primary and secondary resources. Policy coherence in content and timing, as well as policy stability over time, is essential to establish a regulatory framework that enables investment in sustainable, resource efficient and innovative technologies. Uncertainty and extended timelines for policy decisions have negative consequences on the confidence of private investments in new, cleaner technologies. The regulatory framework is an essential element to ensure European leadership in innovation toward a low carbon economy.
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on energy issues, are welcome in advance.
Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. The event will take place on 16 June 2016 at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels, Belgium. The dedicated registration website includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom.
You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.
For more information on registration, please contact the SusChem secretariat.