BASF outlines climate neutrality roadmap

30th March 2021

BASF outlines climate neutrality roadmap

BASF has revised the targets it has set itself on its planned journey to climate neutrality and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This is all based on new technology developments in low-emission and CO2-free technologies.

Among the key elements, BASF now wants to reduce its worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2018 levels of 21.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents by 2030. This also represents a 60% fall on 1990 levels, above the EU’s 55% target.

The target is to be achieved despite planned growth and the construction of a large verbund site in South China. Factoring this out translates to a 50% cut in emissions. The company plans to invest up to €1 billion by 2025 to reach this target and a further €2-3 billion by 2030.

Key to achieving these targets is a long-term transition to new technologies in which electricity from renewable sources replace fossil fuels. BASF is developing many of these, usually in partnership with others, but most are still at the pilot stage and will only be scaled up after 2030. Among these flagship projects are:

• A pilot furnace for the world’s first electrically heated steam cracker, with Sabic and Linde
• Methane pyrolysis technology for the CO2-free production of hydrogen from natural gas
• A 50 MW proton exchange membrane water electrolysis system, in partnership with Siemens, for CO2-free production of hydrogen from water and electricity at the Ludwigshafen verbund site
• Carbon capture &storage projects under the North Sea with partners in the Antwerp@C consortium, possibly saving 1 million tonnes/year of CO2 emissions

The first two could be under way within two years, depending on funding being obtained from German and EU authorities. The latter two are still in the investigation stage.
Because of the switch, BASF expects to see a massive increase in electricity costs at its main sites, threefold by 2035 in the case of Ludwigshafen. It is therefore participating in investments in renewable energy generation facilities to meet its own demand.

Separately, BASF is to end superabsorbent production at Mannheim, Germany. The company said that the 25,000 tonnes/year facility “can no longer be operated economically”, due to “an unfavourable market development and a challenging cost structure”. Production will transfer to the world-scale plant at Antwerp, the company’s other European verbund site.

BASF is also investing €25 million in a new ‘Superabsorbents Excellence Centre’ at Antwerp. This will feature advanced data collection and sensor technology to accelerate the scale-up process, and will implement advanced modelling to follow on from applied robotics for automated sample testing in its development labs as the next step in its digitisation drive for superabsorbents.

Earlier, BASF signed two distinct partnerships agreements to expand its position in biobased surfactants. These deals were made, the company said, in response to “the ever-increasing needs of consumers for sustainable, natural and biodegradable ingredients and actives”.
The company has taken a majority stake in Allied Carbon Solutions (ACS), a Japanese maker of biomass-derived surfactants. This includes an exclusive technology cooperation, a commercial agreement and joint product development in sophorolipids, a class of glycolipids, for use in surfactants with targeted performance.

BASF has also concluded a strategic technology agreement with Holiferm, a UK start-up. This is focused on developing a process to produce by fermentation ingredients for other classes of glycolipids with potential for application in home and personal care, and industrial formulations. It will combine Holiferm’s production technology and process know-how with BASF’s already strong market position, the two said.

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