While dark clouds are forming over Chemelot, industry leaders Dirk Smit (Shell), Allard Castelein (Port of Rotterdam), Loek Radix (Chemelot) and Frank Kuijpers (SABIC) gave their visions on the energy and raw materials transition during the opening of the European Industry and Energy Summit 22. Common thread of their visions is: speed, cooperation and use everything there is.
Loek Radix (Executive director Chemelot) warns that the Netherlands is at risk of de-industrialization. High energy prices are working their way from chemistry to the entire chain. This makes investors reluctant. To survive, it is a matter of Darwin’s survival of the fittest. ‘Everything is about adaptability, and Chemelot is well positioned for this. We make essential products that are important for the future of the world. Not what we do, but how we do it is important. Every household in the Netherlands has an average of 300 kg of product made at Chemelot. Without Chemelot there would be no industry in Europe.’
Dirk Smit (Shell): ‘The question is: how can you ramp up faster? Can it be done smarter? We are keeping all options open, even looking at small nuclear reactors for high power industries.’
Dirk Smit, Chief Scientist Shell and VP Research & Strategy emphasizes that there are different visions of new energy. According to him, the trick is to bring them together in the energy transition. Until now, storage and transportation of renewable energy have been a problem. According to Smit, this can be solved by using chemical energy carriers and synfuels to transport energy. ‘That is what the oil industry has been doing for the past 60 years. The infrastructure is already there. CCS can also be done with the existing infrastructure. The question is: how can you ramp up faster? Can it be done smarter? We are keeping all options open, even looking at small nuclear reactors for high power industries. Geothermal also has our interest, but we don’t expect miracles from it.’
Get started and be agile
Allard Casteleijn (CEO Port of Rotterdam) emphasizes the importance of speed. ‘Don’t look for the most beautiful solution, but get started and be agile. Sometimes you regret investments but that’s part of the game. There are an awful lot of developments at the moment. I’m worried that we can’t make the investments fast enough. Everything is about scale and speed.’ That is also the reason why the Delta Corridor does not go via Belgium. ‘There is already a pipeline in the Netherlands. We can build along that and that is the fastest. Eventually there will be branches to Belgium. If you want to do everything at once it becomes too complex.’
Frank Kuijpers (Sabic): ‘Sabic has the ambition to reduce CO2 emissions faster. Europe has a leading role in this.’
To make the turn to sustainability quickly, cooperation between the public and private sectors is necessary, according to Frank Kuijpers (General Manager Corporate Sustainability at SABIC). Sabic has the ambition to reduce CO2 emissions faster. Europe has a leading role in this. Two projects requiring an investment of 200 million euros are in the pipeline. One is the development of an electric cracker which Sabic is developing together with BASF and Linde in Ludwigshafen and which will be up and running within a year. Another is looking at circularity from plastic waste to raw material. ‘We don’t know if this is the solution but we are going to do it’.