Global demand for liquid hydrocarbons - as transport fuel, but also as a raw material for petrochemical production and other uses - is expected to increase at least until 2040. These products have unrivaled energy density and are easy to transport, which makes them an ideal mean of transporting and storing energy.
It is therefore of great importance for the EU’s energy and industrial value chain, as well as for its citizens, that the carbon emissions of liquid hydrocarbons be progressively reduced. This is because the demand for petroleum products may be declining worldwide, but liquid fuels will continue to be an important part of the energy mix, due to the increase in heavy road, air and shipping, areas for which Refining products are irreplaceable
The difference is that liquid fuels in the future will be less and less based on oil and more and more on new sustainable raw materials. Refineries that have invested in reducing emissions from their operations and will use new, raw materials, and new, climate-neutral, technologies, will produce them. In other words, the Refineries will continue to provide the fuel needed by the economy and society, only that this fuel will be with low or zero carbon footprint, ie clean fuels.
EU Refining industry proposes a potential for a transition to a climate-neutral economy, whereby every liter of liquid fuel could be climate neutral by 2050, helping to reduce emissions by 100% from road transport, and 50 % from shipping and aviation. This proposal is ambitious but feasible.
The refining industry is therefore an important resource for the EU in the energy transition and has begun to evolve to contribute to this goal.
Objectives of the European Union
At COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions to reduce global warming well below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, and possibly to 1.5 ° C.
Europe and its member states are leading this effort, already setting one of the most ambitious goals in the world; that all European citizens will live in a climate-neutral economy by 2050.
This is a bet that the EU wants to achieve through the Green Deal for Europe, an ambitious plan that will bring a huge change in all sectors of the economy, in industry and in our daily lives, in the way we consume and in the way we are moving. To win this bet, climate action has become a number one priority for the EU and national governments, but also for citizens, and that is why these terms - climate change, transition, and carbon neutrality - are now a good part of our daily lives.
Achieving these goals, while maintaining the competitiveness of its economy and the quality of life of its citizens is a huge challenge for the European Union, as changes will be required throughout the EU energy system but also in consumer behavior. It will depend on innovative solutions, which require both technological superiority for their development and the means to finance the necessary investments.
FuelsEurope Vision 2050 is the Refinery industry's comprehensive proposal for the transition to the new low-carbon economy, contributing to the EU's environmental objectives and providing affordable solutions for transport, industry, and citizens.
It analyses the future role of liquid fuels and other products in line with EU's climate change objectives for the longer term – to 2050 and beyond. It also discusses how the refineries can increase their efficiency and be integrated into a cluster of industries.
The Refinery of the Future and its role to the energy transition
EU Refineries have the potential to be low-carbon power plants integrated into a cluster. They already have many technologies to combine and optimize the chemical composition of their respective products and to demonstrate, with the extensive integration of refineries and petrochemical plants, how these industrial partnerships enhance the competitiveness of the industrial complex (Cluster).
The Refinery of the Future will:
- Develop technologies and implement investments for the production of low carbon fuels and other low carbon products.
- Continue the continuous effort to further improve the energy efficiency of its processes by improving the management of its energy system and the adoption of new technologies
- Develop cooperation between industries, participating in joint initiatives for the development of innovative low carbon technologies with the aim of reducing the total emissions of the cluster industries and their products throughout the supply chain.
- Participate in the expansion, deepening and development of collaborative projects with other industries to achieve emission reductions throughout the supply chain.
- During and beyond the energy transition, the refining industry will provide society with low-carbon products, while continuing to provide skilled jobs, scientific and financial contribution to the EU economy.
Cooperation between industrial sectors will give to EU global technological leadership for the transition to low carbon emissions, creating opportunities for the export of technologies and new business models.