Key strategies for industrial decarbonization

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Key strategies for industrial decarbonization-strategies

The climate policy goals cannot be achieved without the conversion of industry to CO2-neutral production. While there is broad agreement that this is achievable and that quick action is required, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what contribution individual solutions should and can make. The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) has calculated scenarios to show possible transformation paths for a climate-neutral industry. The new study calculates three scenarios with a focus on electrification and the use of hydrogen or synthetic hydrocarbons. The results show which key strategies should be robust and implementable over very different transformation paths.

The published report of the project “Long-term scenarios for the transformation of the energy system in Germany” (long-term scenarios 3) was prepared on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection and includes the scenarios for the transformation of the industrial sector.

The energy model forecast used by the Fraunhofer ISI is a detailed illustration of the industrial sector and are particularly characterized by a high degree of technological and spatial resolution, the research institute in a recent communication. According to Z.B. Conclusions for the spatial distribution of future electricity and hydrogen demand within Germany. Technological requirements for the transformation can be broken down and identified in detail by industry and process.

Three scenarios include different paths for greenhouse gas neutrality

The three calculated scenarios TN-stream, TN-H2 and TN-PTG / PTL achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the industrial sector of about 97 percent compared to 1990. On the use of fossil energy sources and biomass is completely renounced. Remaining residual emissions are distributed over several, predominantly relatively small sources of industrial processes. The power supply is strongly strong in the scenarios for electricity, hydrogen or. Power-to-gas switched.

The scenarios show a hydrogen demand of more than 150 TWh per year alone for the supply of about 20 largest chemical and steel locations. The construction of a corresponding supply infrastructure could be done along existing natural gas routes. Clear expansion targets would offer the industry planning security when converting the plant park.

Electrification the most efficient option for CO2-neutral process heat

In most sectors, electrification is the most efficient way of supplying process heat in a CO2-neutral manner, as there are fewer conversion losses than in the production of hydrogen or synthetic hydrocarbons or. power-to-gas occur. At the same time, there is less uncertainty for companies about the future availability of green electricity at the location.

On the other hand, electrification requires extensive conversion or replacement of existing boilers and furnace systems for most processes. The use of hybrid systems, which can flexibly use hydrogen, electricity or natural gas, can play a key role and enable the industry to undergo a gradual transformation.

Complete electrification of the process heat would roughly double the power consumption of industry in Germany to more than 400 TWh per year. A focus on hydrogen or power-to-gas would entail an even higher demand for electricity to generate the corresponding energy carriers. Accordingly, an accelerated expansion of renewables (especially wind and solar energy) for power generation and the elimination of grid bottlenecks is a strategy that is both necessary and robust.

An energy and resource-efficient circular economy must be the guiding principle

In all three scenarios, the study shows that both ambitious progress in energy and resource efficiency and the expansion of the circular economy are key prerequisites for a successful industrial turnaround. Otherwise, the demand for CO2-neutral secondary energy sources would be much higher, which would lead to higher costs and even greater challenges when converting the energy system. Strategies for switching to recycling have a great effect, especially with CO2-intensive raw materials such as steel or plastic.

The cement and lime industry needs clear prospects for storing or using CO2 emissions. Without the development of a CO2 transport infrastructure that connects the important locations of cement and lime production with possible sinks in storage sites or the chemical industry, these sectors cannot achieve climate neutrality. This also requires fundamental legal and political decisions.

dr. Tobias Fleiter, Head of the Business Area Demand Analysis and Projections at Fraunhofer ISI, concludes that the calculated scenarios show that the next few years in particular will be decisive for achieving the climate targets: “The new sector target of the amended Climate Protection Act increases the pressure to act and can only achieved if politicians adapt the regulatory framework in such a way that industry has a clear perspective for the economical, large-scale operation of CO2-neutral manufacturing processes. The robust strategy elements we have identified should enable short-term decisions and setting the course, although there are of course still great uncertainties in the long term.”

In the long-term scenarios 3 project, Fraunhofer ISI works together with Consentec, the TU Berlin and the IFEU. In addition to this report on the industrial sector, the project website www.long-term regularly publishes new results and reports on other aspects of the energy system. In addition to the report, a publicly accessible dataset is also available here, which can be explored online in the data explorer.

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