PTQ Gas 2022 Issue

Beyond hydrogen

Howdigital solutions helpenergy companies achieve short- and long-termsustainability

RON BECK Aspen Tech

T he energy transition, inextrica- bly linked with a global drive for sustainability in energy, chemical, and related industries, is already impacting the European economy and all players across the energy value chain. These geopoliti- cal forces were put into sharp focus in the final months of 2021. First, at COP26 and latterly at the major international energy event held in November, ADIPEC 21, where representatives of the capi- tal-intensive industries discussed how their businesses are focusing strongly on increasing efforts to improve sustainability and reach zero-carbon targets, and at the same time satisfy the world’s ongoing needs for energy from all sources. Together with the pressing count- down to 2030 and the culmination of the EU’s climate target plan, such events are focusing minds, acting as a catalyst for change and increas- ing the urgent need for technology that enables sustainability and envi- ronmentally efficient operations. Additionally, alongside the reduc- tion in carbon emissions, there is a greater focus on commitments toward reducing plastic waste and single-use materials. An additional thrust is a soaring demand for energy as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic and as Asian economies continue to grow, also underscoring the need for more sustainable solutions, which includes the responsibility to meet the needs for affordable energy to a growing middle class in emerging economies. Leadership Industry has been implicitly granted the opportunity to demonstrate a leadership role, given that the world’s governments at COP26 fell short of reaching the kinds of agree-

ments that climate change activists and much of the global public have been calling for. There is growing evidence that energy companies are taking this mantle of responsibility very seriously. ARC Advisory Group’s recent report, The Sustainability Future for Energy and Chemicals 1 , revealed that 90% of global energy and chemical companies have sustainability initi- atives in place. A recent AspenTech survey of over 300 companies glob - ally indicates that 78% of executives believe that effective carbon reduc - tion provides their company with an opportunity for competitive advan- tage. Therefore, it is little surprise that increasing numbers of oil and gas companies, such as BP and Shell, have committed to their own net- zero carbon emission targets. But what solutions are most suit- able to meet the needs of the energy transition and help energy com- panies achieve their sustainability goals? Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal power generation are of unequal potential geographically. Many parts of Asia are challenged by limited access to locations that can generate substantial solar or wind power. Whereas advantaged locations, such as Indonesia and Iceland, have abundant geothermal potential (as well as the mineralogy to support permanent fixing of CO 2 as car- bonates). Biofuels have regulatory advantages for adoption in Europe, but sourcing the land and growers for the needed volumes of biomate- rials will be an increasing bottleneck. In addition, some industrial appli- cations, such as air and ocean trans- port and steel manufacture, are hard to decarbonise, which is counter-pro- ductive to growing efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of a process or energy source. What is more, the

electrification of vehicles and other applications will create a large future demand for metals processing, espe- cially the so-called rare earths, which has an uncertain lifecycle carbon impact and a concentrated supply chain. Clean hydrogen Enter hydrogen, which offers the opportunity to fill a significant frac - tion of the world’s need for energy and can be generated carbon-free. Tayba Al Hashemi, CEO of ADNOC Sour Gas and chairman of ADIPEC, referenced its importance when he said, in the lead-in to the important international gathering: “If the world is going to manage a secure and successful energy tran- sition, the role of traditional energy companies, with their expertise, resources and capabilities, will be critical. ADIPEC 2021 will provide a much-needed platform for industry leaders and innovators to explore the impact of shifts in government pol- icy and changing demand dynamics, as well as to progress the decarbon- isation potential of technologies like CCUS and hydrogen.” Indeed, on day one of the ADIPEC event, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and ADQ announced that Japan’s Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui) and the Republic of Korea’s (Korea) GS Energy Corporation (GS Energy) have agreed to partner with TA’ZIZ and Fertiglobe to develop the world- scale low-carbon blue ammonia facility at the TA’ZIZ Industrial Chemicals Zone in Ruwais. The part- nerships are expected to accelerate Abu Dhabi’s position as a leader in low-carbon fuels, capitalising on the growing demand for blue ammonia as a carrier fuel for clean hydrogen. However, for all its undoubted potential, hydrogen also presents

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