Climate neutrality concepts for the German chemical-pharmaceutical industry

Schmidt, Axel GND; Köster, Dirk; Strube, Jochen GND

This paper intends to propose options for climate neutrality concepts by taking non-German international experiences and decisions made into account. Asia-Pacific and Arabic countries do have already same lessons learned by large-scale projects with regard to economic evaluations. Quite a few conceptual studies to generate the climate neutrality of the chemical–pharmaceutical industry in Germany have been published recently. Most of the studies differ even in magnitude but do not refer to or evaluate the other ones. These are all first theoretical feasibility studies. Experimental piloting is not far developed; only few and only stand-alone parts are operated, with no overall concepts. Economic evaluation is missing nearly completely. Economic analysis shows a factor 3 more expensive green technologies. Even if a large optimization potential of about 30% during manufacturing optimization is assumed as significant, cost increases would result. To make green products nevertheless competitive, the approach is to increase the carbon-source cost analogue, e.g., by CO2/ton taxes by around EUR 100, which would lead to about factor 3 higher consumer prices regarding the material amount. Furthermore, some countries would not participate in such increases and would have benefits on the world market. Whether any customs-duties policy could balance that is generally under question. Such increasing costs are not imaginable for any social-political system. Therefore, the only chance to realize consequent climate neutrality is to speed up research on more efficient and economic technologies, including, e.g., reaction intensification technologies such as plasma ionization, catalyst optimization, section coupling to cement, steel and waste combustion branches as well as pinch technology integration and appropriate scheduling. In addition, digital twins and process analytical technologies for consequent process automation would help to decrease costs. All those technologies seem to lead to even less personnel, but who need to be highly educated to deal with complex integrated systems. Research and education/training has to be designed for those scenarios. Germany as a resource-poor country could benefit from its human resources. Germany is and will be an energy importing country.

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Schmidt, Axel / Köster, Dirk / Strube, Jochen: Climate neutrality concepts for the German chemical-pharmaceutical industry. 2022.

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