According to the Planet Positive Chemicals research by Systemiq and the Centre for Global Commons at the University of Tokyo, the industry may play a “pivotal” role in accelerating the scale-up of electrolyzer production as a result of the rise in hydrogen consumption.
The research acknowledges that the energy system will need to develop renewable energy sources to create up to 12,000TWh for the chemical system by the middle of the century, principally to power green hydrogen synthesis. This is part of the necessary energy transition.
“The bulk of energy will be used for the manufacture of green hydrogen feedstock and will account for about half of the entire global demand for green hydrogen in 2050,” it was noted. In order to scale up the manufacturing of electrolyzers for the green hydrogen industry, the chemical industry (and notably the ammonia industry) will be crucial.
The analysis calculated that by 2050, the chemical industry will need up to 640 million tonnes of carbon capture and storage (CCS) annually, and it cautioned that failure to take action may result in four degrees of global warming being ascribed to the sector.
The report states that by 2050, chemical production must double in order to enable a sustainable global economy. Ammonia production must increase by 440% in order to be used primarily as a sustainable shipping fuel, and methanol production must increase by 330% in order to be used in the production of sustainable plastics.
There might potentially be a need for up to 234 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually, mostly (99%) as a feedstock for ammonia and methanol to make it possible to employ substitute carbon feedstocks for chemical synthesis. “
Guido Schmidt-Traub, the Managing Partner of Systemiq, commented on the findings, saying, “The chemical industry supports every contemporary economy, but it must undergo significant change along its whole value chain to satisfy the Paris Agreement’s objectives. Importantly, these adjustments are entirely doable using the tested methods described in this research.
“The ideas for the investing community, business, and politicians are realistic and doable. The chemical sector may be a driving force for a Net Zero and nature-positive economy, and Systemiq and its partners are prepared to assist in talks about this.
Naoko Ishii, executive vice president, and director of the Centre of Global Commons at the University of Tokyo, continued, “We need to transform our social and economic systems as well as our lifestyles to prevent the collapse of the intricate and interconnected Earth systems on which humanity, including our economic prosperity, depends.
“With its products employed in several industries and being so commonplace in modern life, the chemical industry has a disproportionately large role to play. The chance is obvious: to return the system to within the limits of the planet, achieve Net Zero GHG, and contribute to the Global Commons. We anticipate that this research will spark discussion about how the chemical sector might change in order to seize that chance.