Part 2 | New emerging hazards that the energy and raw materials transition will entail
The chemical industry is working on the transition to climate neutral. During the transition, the hazards of our current processes must remain under control. At the same time, the hazards induced by system changes must be
recognized in time. Do we take enough time to identify the hazards related to upcoming system changes and do we take appropriate measures? ‘System’ is a catch-all term. Systems are everywhere, are often complex and that is why we divide them into subsystems. Systems determine and influence the hazards that exist, the risks we run and thus the choices we (can) make. In the transition to climate neutrality, we, ‘System Chemelot’, have to deal with increasingly complex interactions: with the ecosystem, with Dutch (sub) systems such as energy, raw materials and product logistics and social systems such as (regional) communities. And also with measures such as ETS, nitrogen regulations, the discharge permit, subsidies, ESG reporting and soon the new Dutch ‘omgevingswet’ and much more. And that also at European, national and local level. With the transition to climate neutrality, established systems are coming under pressure or are being changed, for example to accommodate scarcity of electricity or biomass or new transport modes for raw materials. New (sub) systems are also being added, such as satellite sites. All this leads to different dynamics and therefore also to other hazards that Chemelot and the chemical industry have to take into account. Take the electricity supply system as an example. Most plants are designed for stable process operation within a fixed band of production volumes. Making the chemical industry more sustainable through electrification also means facing intermittent supply of green power and price fluctuations. This makes flexibilization (‘Demand Side Response) by increasing and decreasing power consumption and/or intermittent operation (off-on) of processes increasingly attractive. What hazards does this method of operating a chemical installation entail? Have we adequately identified the relevant Loss of Containment scenarios and other potential hazards in these situations? Circularity is another example. Setting up sustainable circular value chains can lead to a more varying quality of raw materials for the chemical industry. Changes in business operations will then be inevitable with accompanying new hazards. Another type of system change arises from the introduction of the new Dutch ‘omgevingswet’: participation. In the long run, participation can lead to more social acceptance of the activities of the chemical industry as well. On the other hand, a poorly performed participation process is a danger to our reputation. Due to the increasing complexity and speed of changes, our current (mostly static) methods are only partly suitable for future use. The many variables and interactions require new – more dynamic – methods to give us the insights we need to identify and recognize hazards in time and to be able to take appropriate measures. 1) a purposefully ordered coherent whole of related things and their parts. Source online from Dale.
The increasing complexity and speed of changes that put increasing pressure on systems and can lead to system change also require a timely review of the methods we use to identify and recognize hazards in time. The use of (system) dynamics to increase our understanding is an option. Do you have experience with this, do you want to think along with us?
Do you have questions regarding to this subject, do you want to contribute to this program, or do you want to make use of our services? Please get in touch with Esta de Goede, manager of this program line. We are looking forward to meeting you!