There are three reasons for the enormous explosion in prosperity that Western countries (and subsequently Asia) experienced after World War II. The first is the widespread availability of affordable energy sources (coal, oil and natural gas). The second is the impressive increase in productivity in basic industries like chemicals and steel and the resultant low prices for basic raw materials, which are the starting point for almost all industrial manufacturing processes. The third is the smooth-running food supply, thanks to the increasingly smart use of agricultural fertilizers. As we have since discovered, the latter development also has a downside; climate change and depletion of fossil resources. Something we all know about by now.
The major challenge facing society is how we can make energy supply and the production of basic raw materials more sustainable, while at the same time maintaining our standard of living at the same level. Here at Chemelot, we are at the heart of this challenge. We produce large quantities of raw materials for plastics and fertilizers, which is based on fossil resources and uses a great deal of energy. At the same time, Chemelot is second in the Netherlands in terms of industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The secret is to continue to manufacture our products, as this underpins our prosperity, but to do so in a sustainable, circular way.
How can we make energy supply and the production of basic raw materials more sustainable, while at the same time maintaining our standard of living at the same level?
The plans are ready. For 2030 and for 2050. Actions, not just words. Chemelot is the industrial cluster that is currently leading the way in reducing greenhouse gases. Thanks to the high degree of integration at Chemelot, the conceptual overview of our task is that we need to replace our fossil resources with circular raw materials (waste and biomass) and we need to use green electricity to power our processes. Chemelot has already seen significant investment in producing circular raw materials and the necessary green electricity must be made available. There is still a lot to be developed before this can happen, but the technology is not available off the shelf. Brightsite is playing a crucial role in this. Taking all of this into account, I believe that if any chemical cluster is to succeed in being completely circular by 2050, then it will be Chemelot.
Executive Director Chemelot