Energy transition

Dutch refineries can contribute a quarter towards industry’s climate challenge

14 November 2018
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The Dutch refinery sector can reduce annual CO₂ emissions by 5.5 Megatonnes by 2030. This is a quarter of the 19.4 Mt CO₂ reduction challenge that the cabinet set for the industry for 2030. The technology that can make the biggest contribution towards this reduction is CCS (Carbon Capture Storage). The sector can use the capture and storage of CO₂ to reduce CO₂ emissions by over 4 Mt. This is stated in the ‘Dutch refineries CO₂ reduction roadmap’ study, conducted by advice agency DNV-GL, contracted by VNPI. The report was presented to Minister Wiebes from Economic Affairs during a meeting in The Hague on 12 November.

Pipelines in the port of Rotterdam

The study describes how Dutch refineries can reduce their CO₂ emissions between 2030 and 2050. As well as CCS, other potential technologies include the establishment of energy-efficient projects, CO₂ capture at the refinery itself, powering processes using green power and using residual heat for purchasers outside the refinery. These technologies are already available or could be achievable with the anticipated advancements in R&D.

VNPI Director, Erik Klooster: “Dutch refineries are among the most efficient in Europe. As the cabinet aims to increase sustainability faster than Europe, within the context of the Climate Agreement we are now discussing how we can achieve such acceleration. This study demonstrates that most technologies are already available and usable, as long as we set the right framework conditions. In contributing to this, Dutch refineries will be taking a pioneering role in the world.”

One route that offers perspective is the use of ‘blue’ hydrogen: this entails capturing and storing CO₂ emissions from the production of hydrogen. Hydrogen is an important raw material for the refining industry and is produced both at the refineries and by external suppliers. Using blue hydrogen can reduce CO₂ emissions by 3 Mt. This measure is technically feasible and is the most favourable cost-wise of the entire reduction package.

An additional 3.7-billion-euro investment is required to achieve the intended reduction challenge by 2030. This amount is on top of the standard investments that have already been made in order to continue to meet current statutory obligations. One of the discussion topics in the climate committees is how these investments can be made without affecting the international competitive position of Dutch refineries.

Klooster: “Purchasers of refinery products are currently not prepared to pay extra for products with a lower CO₂ footprint. Making additional climate investments should not lead to the industry pricing itself out of the market. We are currently discussing this with the government and other involved parties. With a sophisticated innovation policy, the Netherlands can become the place where the refinery sector invests in the future.”

According to the DNV-GL study, various conditions need to be met to enable refineries to reduce annual emissions by 5.5 Mt CO₂.

  • The Netherlands is making investing in CO₂ reduction attractive in order to attract the required capital. The challenge is to position your country as the place in which owners of industry want to invest in innovative technologies to reduce CO₂.
  • Apart from a few energy-efficient measures, all options from the current package are loss-making. Refinery owners can be persuaded to make investments with measures such as a higher international CO2 price and national policy including an SDE+ subsidy.
  • National investments in energy infrastructure are also required:
  • A network for transport and storage of CO₂ is being created, starting in the Port of Rotterdam;
  • The existing hydrogen network is being expanded and improved;
  • The electricity network needs to be reinforced and made sufficiently reliable to power the refinery processes;
  • An infrastructure for industrial residual heat and a methodology that makes it attractive to purchase this heat is being established.

More information?

Download the ‘Dutch refineries CO₂ reduction roadmap’ study, conducted by advice agency DNV-GL, contracted by VNPI.