What are tomorrow megatrends & what is at stake ? 13.02.2020
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Energy transformation is being driven by five global megatrends. The five megatrends – climate change & energy transition, aspiration for a better quality of life, pollution, resource sustainability, and digitalization – are challenges for all businesses, and especially for our industry.
Driven by the expanding middle class in the world’s fastest developing economies, demand for cleaner transportation fuels and petrochemicals remains strong. Global demand for crude oil is expected to grow at 1% per year to reach around 106mn mb/d in 2024, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
If current trends in oil continue, the shift in demand from transportation to the petrochemical sector will accelerate. Petrochemicals should account for one-third of the growth in oil demand by 2030, rising to 50% by 2050.
To meet this demand, Axens is continuously developing innovative schemes to convert an increasing share of crude into olefins (or alkenes) and aromatics. An outstanding example of this trend is the implementation of Axens technologies in China’s Hengli complex. Plastics recycling is evolving amid growing consumer awareness and new legislative controls. To address the impact of plastic waste on the environment, Axens is involved in recycling processes for plastics such as PET.
Looking at the longer-term, global demand for refined products should peak in the 2030s, despite an increase in demand for mobility. The peak is explained by the impact of engine efficiency gains by new passenger vehicles, rising electric vehicle penetration and the substitution of fossil fuels with biofuels or LNG.
This would be an important step in meeting the Paris Agreement objectives, but it will not be enough. To minimize our industry’s environmental footprint, Axens is focusing its efforts on three main areas.
1. Energy efficiency improvements in existing and grassroots plants
This is achieved through audits and specially developed custom designs that prioritize the implementation of highly energy-efficient equipment.
In addition, the digitalization of refineries and petrochemical plants enables the collection and analysis of data in real-time, accelerating operators’ technical decision-making process and energy efficiency.
2. The deployment of low-carbon fuel production technologies
These fuels come from non-food crops—therefore not affecting food security—such as:
- The Futurol™ process for cellulosic ethanol, which enables a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil gasoline, which is crucial to curbing greenhouse gas emissions from transport
- The BioTfueL project for advanced biodiesel and biojet fuel, for which no medium term alternative exists
3. CO2 capture
Axens is involved in the 3D project in Dunkirk, an innovative process that can reduce the energy consumption of the capture process by 35%.
In a fast-changing world shaped by increasing environmental awareness, low-carbon economy transition and connectivity, the energy and chemical industries must innovate and deliver ever more advanced and efficient solutions to contribute to a better world.