Pathways to Net Zero & Circularity: Challenges and opportunity for downstream refining and chemicals in a low carbon world
Downstream refining and chemical companies have been solving major problems faced by society for decades. Today, we see this industry sector well positioned to not only support the global objectives for lowering GHG emissions, but also at the center of enabling the technologies and real-life solutions that can make many “net zero” aspirations possible. While policy makers struggle with finding a balance between incentives and penalties to “get industry aligned,” companies and markets are seeking new business models that will make low carbon and circular solutions viable and sustainable over time. The pathway to net zero will involve a combination of many solutions at the operational level including but not limited to bio-feedstocks, renewable power, electrification, hydrogen, carbon capture, expanded integration of chemicals into refining operations and circularity in plastics. The next great challenge for industry is to achieve commitments by companies and countries to attain net zero or lower carbon emissions by 2030. What technologies are available and what is the incremental impact on CAPEX and OPEX to implement? How will government policies around the world support the effort? Will market premiums emerge for “low-carbon products” to provide an investment incentive? Will new business models emerge that will ensure new solutions to lower emissions will be sustainable over time?