Decarbonizing these industries requires courage. It requires pushing the boundaries, and it requires a tremendous amount of collaboration among various stakeholders.Tim Holt, Siemens Energy Managing Board Member
Reducing emissions: the major task facing our major industries
Many industries such as steel, aluminum, petrochemicals, paper and cement are fundamental to our way of life. They account for around 25% of global GDP.
But as crucial as these industries are, they are massive polluters. Producing around 30% of the world’s greenhouse emissions, in fact.
We’re already seeing some of the worst effects of climate change, with extreme weather events becoming more severe and more frequent. We need change urgently, as made clear by the World Energy Outlook 2022 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
This report stresses that investment and realization of projects in the energy transition need to speed up substantially. Only then can we reduce the number of people who lack access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.
But transforming sectors which cannot directly use renewable energy is tough. We need these sectors; we cannot simply shut them down.
So, we absolutely must decarbonize them. We can achieve this in a number of ways: through electrifying processes, increasing energy efficiency; by optimizing processes; with the use of solutions including a shift from coal to gas, and the increased use of renewable hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS); and above all, through forming new alliances.
Tackling the tough energy trilemma
Increasing the use of renewable energy sources is not enough – and as mentioned, many energy-intensive industries are unable to draw on these in any case.
We need to build a new infrastructure. And we need to face the so-called energy trilemma.
Energy sustainability, energy affordability and energy reliability.
As we develop climate-friendlier solutions, we have to ensure that they are stable and reliable – and that they are not prohibitively expensive. By increasing efficiency and quickly scaling up new innovations, costs can be made more manageable.
Only by achieving the three elements of the energy trilemma can we achieve lasting decarbonization of hard to decarbonize sectors.
It’s a tough, tough challenge. But we believe it can be met.
Decarbonization alliance in Braskem
Siemens Energy worked in alliance with Braskem, the world’s leading biopolymer producer, to transform their plant in São Paulo, Brazil.
Their old manufacturing complex needed to cut CO₂ emissions, reduce water usage, and secure a more reliable electricity supply than the national grid could offer.
Both parties had to think in a new and different way to develop the innovative solution: a cogeneration plant within the plant, fueled by residual process gas with high hydrogen content (60% by volume).
The solution that the two turbines are involved have so far reduced water consumption by 11.4% and CO₂ emissions by 6.3% - as well as delivering security of power supply and reduced costs. The facility’s overall energy consumption will be reduced by an amount equivalent to that of a city with a million inhabitants.
Decarbonization alliancesWe are working with others to develop fully-sustainable next-generation solutions including e-fuels.
But of course there is still much more to be done – not just in transferring the solutions used for hard to decarbonize industries, such as the pulp and paper industry, to other sectors, but in forming more, and ever closer, alliances.
Facing the future – together
History shows that it is forging alliances which has enabled humans to survive, thrive and progress. And now, our future depends on human alliances.
Siemens Energy has already created a number of such alliances with major companies and organizations:
- A memorandum of understanding has been signed with the chemical producer BASF, and a technically challenging project to replace the gas turbine at their Schwarzheide site in Germany has already been completed. The plant is now 10% more efficient and emits 16% less greenhouse gases.
- A partnership agreement has been signed with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) with the aim of advancing the global energy transition.
- Siemens Energy and Air Liquide are combining the companies’ common expertise in electrolysis technology to develop large-scale, sustainable hydrogen production projects.
- Similar partnerships to increase the production and use of low-carbon hydrogen have been established with Uniper and Japanese multinational Toray Industries.
- A collaboration agreement has been signed with Linde Engineering to accelerate decarbonization in the petrochemical sector.
But of course there is still much more to be done, with more alliances to be made across more industry sectors. We’ll keep you posted.
Decarbonization in the supply chain
We collaborate with our suppliers to reduce our CO2 emissions to Net Zero. Figure out what helps us on our journey toward a carbon-free world.
Toward a new energy system: In 2020, coal was responsible for a hefty 36% of all energy-related CO₂ emissions. But as we trade out fossil fuels for renewables, is it possible to maintain stable and reliable dispatchable power? Our new white paper aims to give you a holistic view of how we can shape the energy transition together.