Preview Brightsite Transition Outlook 2023: a comprehensive and societal insight into the transition of the chemical industry


In spring 2023, Brightsite will release its second Transition Outlook. Behind the scenes, a considerable amount of work is being put into this overview, which describes the challenges and opportunities relating to the energy and raw materials transition of Chemelot from the integral Brightsite perspective. BTO 2023 will be based on various sources, is sponsored by ChemistryNL and will include progressive insights obtained from the various Brightsite program lines.

Lack of energy and raw materials

“The three particular areas of focus this year are the energy and raw materials transition, water management and the social aspect of the climate transition”, explains Paul Brandts, Intelligence Officer at Brightsite. “In terms of the first area, we will provide an overview of the energy and raw materials transition of a hypothetical, simplified chemicals site inspired by Chemelot but scaled up to a size that makes the transition representative of the current need on a Dutch scale and its impact. We will explain what we believe to be the solution strategies and why a systematic approach is necessary. The reduction in the use of fossil resources in order to meet the climate objectives will, for the time being, not be accompanied by sufficient available resources in relation to the required scope of the transition. These resources, CO2-free energy and alternative carbon sources and materials are still currently in short supply compared to society’s annual requirements by 2050 in order to be climate neutral. The sources and in part, the technologies, will therefore need to be developed and suitable logistics organised to make sufficient volumes of renewable energy and raw materials available.

Paul Brandts, Intelligence Officer at Brightsite:

“The scarcity of alternative energy and raw materials has major consequences — any amount that is used by one area is not then available for another.”

An example to illustrate this would be if all cars in the Netherlands were to run on green hydrogen, this would require much more additional green energy than is needed for plug-in cars, hundreds of extra petajoules per year. As long as green energy is only available to a limited extent, this would deprive other societal sectors of the ability to become more sustainable. All those petajoules would then not be available for other types of electrification, including in the chemical industry Without direction, this could lead to a delay in the climate transition or unnecessarily high costs for the next generation. This may be a somewhat far-fetched example, but we need to be aware of these large-scale effects and the importance of considering options from a national perspective”, explains Brandts.

Transparency and considerations

Brightsite strives to explore all possible transition options, as well as to provide transparency based on facts and science regarding which routes lead to the most efficient use of raw materials at a national level in terms of reducing emissions and the consequences of decisions for future society following (large-scale) implementation. “In the BTO, we will also discuss the possible effect of incentivising laws and regulations on transition choices”, concludes Brandts.

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