Decarbonisation Technology - May 2023 Issue

Decarbonisation and sustainability value chains Deciding which decarbonisation pathway to adopt can be difficult, as there are multiple technologies to consider, each with its own risks and rewards

Chris Egby Shell Catalysts & Technologies

R educing carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions is an important goal for the operators of refineries, petrochemical plants, and those in hard-to-abate industries such as steel and cement manufacturing. There are numerous decarbonisation pathways and technologies to consider, including renewable fuels, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). As each carries its own risks and rewards, deciding which to adopt can be challenging. Shell has been actively decarbonising its own refineries by transforming them into energy and chemicals parks, with Shell Catalysts & Technologies playing a central role in this process. We have been supporting companies in other sectors, too. So in this article, we will share our experience to provide insights into some of the options available. First, let us look at why decarbonisation is necessary. The Paris Agreement poses an ambitious goal of maintaining the average global temperature increase below 2°C compared with the pre-industrial level and, ideally, limiting it to 1.5°C. Achieving these targets is a daunting task that requires almost halving the net CO 2 emissions in the next 30 years, from 32 Gt in 2017 to 18.4 Gt per annum by 2050. This is exacerbated, however, by the increasing global population, which is expected to increase from about 8 billion in 2023 to almost 10 billion by 2050. In the same period, energy demand is expected to rise by a third. While social and investor pressures are growing, many countries have set net-zero targets and begun implementing energy transition policies.

Shell’s net-zero targets Shell’s net-zero target is to reduce scope 1, 2, and 3 CO 2 emissions from 1.7 Gt per annum to zero by 2050. Interestingly, as most of the company’s CO 2 emissions come from energy products that customers have bought and used themselves (Scope 3), it believes that working with customers, sector by sector, is the way to do this. So it intends to work with customers across many sectors, including aviation, shipping, road freight and industry, to decarbonise value chains. It will do this by listening to them and learning with them. Shell is working to meet its decarbonisation targets. For example, by the end of 2022, it had reduced emissions from its operations by 30% and reduced the net carbon intensity of the energy products it sells by 3.8% (both compared with 2016). It also more than doubled its solar and wind generation capacity, and increased the number of electric vehicle charge points it owns or operates by around 62% (both compared to 2021). It is also developing renewable (green) hydrogen and growing its biofuels portfolio. To achieve this, Shell is transforming some of its refineries into energy and chemicals parks (see Figure 1 ) – integrated lower-carbon clusters that can better adapt to future changes in customer demand. Among the sites undergoing this transformation are Europe’s largest refinery, Pernis, which has become Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam, and Germany’s largest, Rheinland, which is becoming Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland. These energy and chemicals parks are diversifying their energy inputs by replacing


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