Concepts and pathways towards a carbon-neutral heavy industry in the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia

Panel: 4. Technology, products and system optimisation

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Clemens Schneider, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment & Energy, Germany
Stefan Lechtenböhmer, Wuppertal Institute, Germany


The German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is home to important clusters of energy-intensive basic materials industries. 15% of the EU’s primary steel as well as 15% of high-value base chemicals are produced here. Together with refinery fuels, cement, lime and paper production (also overrepresented in NRW) these are the most carbon-intensive production processes of the industrial metabolism. To achieve the ambitious regional and national climate goals without relocating these clusters, carbon-neutral production will have to become standard by mid-century.

We develop and evaluate three conceptual long-term scenarios towards carbon-neutral industry systems for NRW for 2050 and beyond:

• a first scenario depending on carbon capture and storage or use for heavy industries (iCCS),

• a second scenario sketching the direct electrification of industrial processes (and transport) and

• a third scenario relying on the import of low carbon energies (e.g. biomass, and synthetic fuels (like methanol) for the use in industries and transport.

All scenarios share the assumption that electricity generation will be CO2-neutral by 2050.

For all three scenarios energy efficiency, primary energy demand for energy services and feedstock as well as the carbon balance are quantified. We apply a spatial-explicit analysis of production sites to allow for discussion of infrastructure re-use and net investment needs. Possible symbiotic relations between sectors are also included. The robustness of the three conceptualised future carbon-neutral industry systems is then analysed using a multi-criteria approach, including e.g. energy security issues and lock-ins on the way to 2050.


Download this presentation as pdf: 4-065-18_Schneider_pres.pdf

Download this paper as pdf: 4-065-18_Schneider.pdf