BASF
Petchem giant sticks to ambitious climate goals / CO2 output to be cut 25% by 2030 / Ready to supply first net-zero products
Despite, or perhaps due to, the heated discussion over the consequences of a potentially abrupt end to Russian natural gas supplies to Europe for chemical production and its impact on climate goals, BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany; www.basf.com) has reaffirmed its ambitious climate targets even after the German chemical industry association VCI (Frankfurt; www.vci.de) issued dire warnings about the immediate impact on production.

In an update of its sweeping plans announced a year ago (see Plasteurope.com of 06.04.2021), Germany’s largest chemical producer and one of the world’s plastics giants said it will stick to its 2030 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% compared with 2018 and its target of net zero emissions globally by 2050. BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller said, “There is a brutal war raging in Europe with far-reaching consequences for both people and the economy. Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the greatest global challenge of our time – climate change.” He noted that the group is “working intensively to implement a large number of projects to further reduce our CO2 emissions significantly and achieve our ambitious climate targets.”

By cooperating with suppliers of raw materials, Brudermüller added that BASF is also taking steps to reduce product-related emissions to support customers’ efforts to reduce emissions in their own portfolios.

Additionally, as a guideline for progress along the path to annually releasing only 16.4 mn t eight years from now, the group plans to publish an annual carbon emissions forecast as part of its business outlook, within a corridor of plus or minus 500,000 t. From 2021 to 2025, BASF said it continues to expect that capital spending of less than EUR 1 bn (a sum already budgeted) will be needed to develop low-emission technologies and scale them up in pilot plants. For some projects, it has already received public funding, while for others a decision is expected shortly.
Renewable energy crucial in reducing emissions
Over the five-year period from 2026 to 2030, spending is expected to rise to around EUR 2-3 bn. In the same timeframe, the chemical giant plans to bring the first new carbon management technologies to scale and accelerate the switch to renewable power.

The company said “significantly higher” investments will be required for the construction of world-scale production plants employing the new technologies and to further scale up the use of renewable energy after 2030.

In 2021, the first year of its new climate plan, BASF said it cut emissions some 3% against 2020 despite considerably higher production. This, it reported, was thanks to the increased use of renewable energy.

Converting its power plants to run on renewable energy will be the main driver of the group’s mission reduction up to 2025. In 2021, renewables accounted for 16% of its global power usage. By 2030, it expects such materials to meet 100% of its 2021 power needs.

To this end, BASF is pursuing a dual “make-and-buy” strategy of investing in its own renewable power assets and buying “green” energy. In one of several deals announced in 2021, it acquired a 49% stake valued at EUR 1.6 bn in the Dutch wind farm Hollandse Kust Zuid (HKZ) planned by Swedish energy giant Vattenfall. This is slatted to become operational in 2023 (see Plasteurope.com of 28.06.2021). It also signed a number of other global power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Currently, about 50% of steam demand at Ludwigshafen comes from processes that produce carbon emissions. BASF is working with Siemens Energy to replace steam production at co-generation plants with heat pumps and steam compressors. One of the first to switch will be an acetylene plant in Ludwigshafen starting in 2024, with a later rollout set for other facilities.

At the headquarters site, work on developing an electrically heated steam cracker furnace is in progress with Saudi Arabian chemicals and plastics producer Sabic (Riyadh; www.sabic.com) and engineering group Linde (London; www.linde.com).

Plans for a multi-megawatt pilot plant in Ludwigshafen are also on track to be realised by 2023, subject to “a positive public funding decision.” For carbon-free production of hydrogen, BASF is developing new processes such as methane pyrolysis.

At its Schwarzheide facility in eastern Germany, site management and envia recently established a joint venture for a solar park with an expected electricity production of 25 gigawatt hours per year, representing about 10 % of the site’s current annual electricity demand. The first major solar power plant in which BASF is directly involved is set to support production of battery materials from the end of 2022.

Work toward lower emissions is also moving ahead in Antwerp, Belgium, the group’s second largest Verbund (integrated) chemical site. Here the goal is to cut annual emissions tonnage from 3.8 mn in 2021 to near net zero by 2030, which would be before such a reduction in Ludwigshafen.

BASF said the Belgian goal could be achieved by importing green power from offshore wind parks in combination with the deployment of new, low-emission technologies and a large-scale carbon capture and storage operation at the Port of Antwerp (see Plasteurope.com of 30.11.2021). However, to meet the challenge, “the political sector will need to offer the right framework conditions.”
Switch to renewables in China ahead of schedule
One of BASF’s newest climate control projects could be implemented in Zhanjiang in China’s Guangdong province, at its third largest Verbund site. An advanced integration concept and the use of renewable energy will play the key role in lowering greenhouse gas emissions compared to a gas-powered petrochemical site, the group said. Replacing fossil-fuel energy with renewable electricity is a “main lever.”

Earlier this month, the German chemical powerhouse signed a second 25-year framework agreement with the Chinese State Power Investment Corporation under the new renewable energy trading rules in Guangdong province. This foresees purchasing renewable electricity for the next phases of site’s development.

The newest project is at the same time the largest-volume and longest-running green electricity purchase framework agreement ever signed in China, BASF said. Supported by this deal and the partnerships with other energy suppliers, the group noted that it is further accelerating its plan to power the entire Zhanjiang site with renewable electricity by 2025, which is earlier than originally planned.
End-consumers drive net-zero and low-PCF products
In concluding his update, aimed primarily at capital markets, Brudermüller said BASF is making “significant progress toward achieving sustainable growth through products with a reduced carbon footprint.” This is all being made possible by its step-by-step switch to green power, low-carbon steam, bio-based feedstocks, and highly efficient processes.

The CEO said management expects demand for such products to exceed supply in the medium term, and that their market value will more than compensate for the higher production costs. End-consumers, he explained, will drive the transformation towards net-zero and low-PCF consumer products as they already are requesting alternatives to conventional consumer products.

To help its customers reduce the carbon footprint of their own products, BASF has developed an in-house digital solution to calculate the PCFs for around 45,000 of its products. To create more transparency, it said it is working with suppliers to improve the data for the raw materials it purchases from them.
04.04.2022 Plasteurope.com [249988-0]
Published on 04.04.2022
BASF: Chemiekonzern hält an seiner Klimaschutzstrategie festGerman version of this article...

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