Producing chemicals with 100% renewable energy

We all need access to products like food, clothes, and medicine. The chemical industry, in collaboration with other value chains, manages to transform available resources into these desired products. The processes needed to convert these resources into products require energy. Non-renewable energy sources, mostly fossil fuels,  emit CO2 and other green-house gases. To circumvent this, some chemical companies have been pioneering the switch to use 100% renewable energy.


As of January 1st, 2020, the Kokkola site of CABB GROUP moved to 100% renewable energy electricity. The electricity used to power the site’s operations is generated by hydropower plants, meaning the movement of water is used to generate energy. This switch to renewable energy reduces the site’s CO2 emissions by approximately 5,800 metric tons per year, equivalent to the average individual CO2 footprint of almost 830 EU citizens.


SABIC’s polycarbonate facility in Cartagena, Spain, is set to become a large-scale chemical production site to be run entirely on renewable power by 2024. The company has agreed a deal with Iberdrola, one of the world’s biggest electricity utility companies, to construct a 100MW solar PV facility with 263,000 panels on land owned by SABIC. This would make it the largest industrial renewable power plant in Europe. The new PV plant will deliver an 80.000 tonnes annual reduction in CO2 emissions.


BASF in Germany and RWE presented a project idea that shows how industrial production of basic chemicals can become sustainable and future-proof. By 2030, RWE would develop, build and operate a 2GW offshore wind farm to provide the Ludwigshafen chemical site with renewable electricity, as well as enable CO2-free production of hydrogen.

The renewable electricity – combined with CO2-free technologies such as electrically heated steam cracker furnaces – will be used towards the production of basic chemicals, which are currently based on fossil fuels. These plans could result in the avoidance of around 3.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, of which 2.8 million tons would be realised directly at BASF in Ludwigshafen.

RWE wants to use 20 per cent of the green electricity from the new offshore wind farm to produce hydrogen. The green hydrogen could be used by other industrial customers as well, which would save more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

To conclude, the geographical location may determine which source of renewable energy companies have access to, but these companies prove that with a little creativity, solutions are available.

Associated SDG targets

SDG 7 - Affordable And Clean Energy
SDG 12-ResponsibleConsumptionAndProduction