Dr. Martin Brudermüller (BASF) and Dr. Markus Krebber (RWE), who were joined by Michael Vassiliadis, Chairman of the Mining, Chemical, and Energy Industries Union (IG BCE), presented a project idea that demonstrates how industrial production may become more sustainable and future-proof.
An additional offshore wind farm with a capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW) is planned to provide green electricity to the Ludwigshafen chemical complex and enable CO2-free hydrogen synthesis. The goal is to electrify the current fossil-fuel-based production processes for basic chemicals.
This will entail using CO2-free methods to generate petrochemicals, such as electrically heated steam cracker furnaces. BASF is already developing these technologies in collaboration with partners. The CEOs of BASF and RWE have signed a letter of intent to develop the joint initiative, which covers a wide range of cooperation for the construction of extra renewable electricity capacity and the deployment of innovative climate-protection technology.
“Through electrification and the use of CO2-free hydrogen, we seek to expedite the transition to a CO2-neutral chemical industry,” Brudermüller and Krebber said. “Here, two powerful partners are making climate-friendly transformation and energy transition tangible and concrete,” said Michael Vassiliadis, Chairman of the Mining, Chemical, and Energy Industries Union (IG BCE). We support this huge project since it has the potential to be a symbol for industry’s and its employees’ innovative power. They are shaping the transformation in many places with great passion and expertise. They are deserving of all the help they can get.”
Around 3.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions might be avoided every year as a result of these efforts, with 2.8 million tons being realized directly at BASF in Ludwigshafen. It demonstrates how the chemical sector can balance environmental protection and competitiveness. The wind farm would not require any governmental subsidies to be built.
“Our future transformation will not be possible unless significant volumes of electricity from renewable sources are available at competitive prices,” said Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. Only through imaginative and active collaboration between politics and industry will this mission be accomplished. It also necessitates coordination throughout value chains. We bring together the required prerequisites and the ambition to shape things in our cooperation between RWE as a leading power generation company and BASF as a leading chemical company.”
“Coupling a new offshore wind farm already in the development stage to an industrial customer like BASF, who will convert its output to green power and hydrogen on this basis, would be a first for Germany,” said Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE. The implementation of our idea would mark a significant step forward in the expansion of renewable energy sources. Of course, there are still some unanswered questions, but we want to go forward as quickly as possible. This is how the energy transition will be shaped.”
A competent regulatory framework will be required to carry out this proposal. Policymakers have stated that they intend to considerably enhance renewable energy expansion targets and speed capacity increases. For this to work, there will need to be a tendering process for offshore project sites that are only expected to be used after 2030, according to existing plans. These sites should be earmarked particularly for tenders focused on industrial transformation processes, according to the companies. Another major consideration is that green electricity should be exempt from the EEG tax. Furthermore, there is currently no regulatory framework in place for the production of CO2-free hydrogen.
BASF and RWE demonstrate how a well-planned restructuring of Germany’s industrial sector may be successful with the project presented today. “We are convinced: climate-neutral industrial production ‘made in Germany’ keeps value added and jobs in Germany, and opens up new export potential for new technologies,” Brudermüller and Krebber said.