Low-carbon case studies

The UKPIA Future Vision outlines the how the downstream oil sector can become an essential part in society's drive to decarbonise to 'Net Zero' emissions by 2050, whilst still supporting jobs, skills and growth across our economy.

As companies and others create and adopt new ways of lowering emissions from their products and processes across the refining and fuel supply sectors, this page will be used to signpost useful case studies of developments at the cutting edge of our industry.

Check below for:

1. Low-carbon liquid fuels case studies

2. Refinery of the Future case studies

3. CCUS and Industrial Clusters case studies

4. Future of Mobility case studies

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Low-carbon liquid fuels

Biofuel from Algae

ExxonMobil is carrying out research to develop advanced biofuels from algae. This joint effort with Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) is working towards the technical ability to produce 10,000 barrels of algae biofuels a day by 2025. The objective is to develop advanced algae biofuels options and identify the best pathways to make these groundbreaking technologies available to consumers.

ExxonMobil How Algae Works
Image: ExxonMobil

Making household wastes into jet fuel

In 2016, BP announced a major global investment of US$30 million in Fulcrum Bioenergy, a pioneer in the development and production of low-carbon aviation fuel. The ambition is to deliver sustainable aviation fuels derived from waste from Fulcrum's first commercial biofuels plant in Nevada, USA.

Fulcrum's process is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80%, compared to the production of traditional aviation fuel.

BP Biojet Case Study
Image: provided by BP

Refinery of the Future

OMV Refinery in Austria turning plastics into fuel

Within the EU, we are already seeing examples of how refineries can do more than just refine crude oil. Austrian refiner OMV opened a £10 million plant in 2018 that can turn plastics into base oils that could be treated in the same way as traditional fossil-based crude oil.

Using these plastics that were otherwise meant for incineration, reduces the emissions that would have otherwise have been created. It also reduces the need for oil exploration and production and recovers plastic waste in a way that can generate an economic return.

OMV Waste Plastics Image
Image: provided by OMV

Converting crude refineries into bio-refineries: Total La Mède Refinery

In 2015, French oil and gas major Total announced plans to transform its La Mède Refinery and in 2019 France's first converted bio-refinery began operations.

Rather than build a completely new facility, La Mède was chosen to adapt its refinery including the option to upgrade "certain petroleum product refining operations, but halt processing of crude oil", which highlights that the evolution of existing refineries even into 100% non-fossil feedstocks is possible, and already happening in Europe.

Total La Mede Biorefinery
Image: Total with permission

CCUS and industrial clusters

South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC)

The South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) - a 'clustering' group of major industrial companies in the region along the M4 corridor that includes Valero's Pembroke Refinery - is developing a number of Roadmap and Deployment projects which will seek to identify the best options for cost-effective decarbonisation of industry in South Wales.
The projects will look at the infrastructure required for the development of the hydrogen economy, for large scale CO2 capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and transport as well as onsite strategic opportunities specific to each industry. 
SWIC Map

HyNet North West Hydrogen and CCUS project

HyNet North West is a hydrogen energy and Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) project, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions from industry, homes and transport and support economic growth in the North West of England.

The HyNet cluster includes plans to develop a Low Carbon Hydrogen Plant at Essar's Stanlow Refinery, which will produce 3TWh of low carbon hydrogen whilst also pioneering carbon capture storage (CCS) technology to capture and store over 95% of carbon used in the process. Plans are also in place for a front-end engineering design (FEED) study for a new hydrogen-fired combined heat and power (CHP) at Stanlow.

 

HyNet CCUS Cluster
Image: HyNet

The Port of Rotterdam Industrial Cluster

In the Netherlands, the Port of Rotterdam is a pioneering example of industrial cooperation, with five oil refineries forming the core of a petrochemical cluster, with a combined distillation capacity of 58 million tonnes of petroleum products and petrochemical feedstocks. Beyond the core of these 5 refineries, several other refineries in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are supplied with crude via pipelines from the Port.

The Port and its industrial partners have adopted a shared aim to lower carbon emissions across their operations and considered potential pathways they could follow to contribute more to the Netherlands' ambitions under the Paris Agreement. Against current emissions, the cluster has identified a number of decarbonisation strategies that could reduce emissions by as much as 98%.

Port of Rotterdam with permission
Image: Port of Rotterdam with permission

Zero Carbon Humber

The Zero Carbon Humber project is a consortium of 11 companies - including Phillips 66's Humber Refinery -  committed to the ambition to create the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040, located in the Humber region, with the potential to capture and store around 10% of UK carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Alongside the CCS as a standalone element, the project will also look at pairing the technology with bioenergy, as well as producing low carbon hydrogen from natural gas using CCS. The project will also examine future options of producing hydrogen through electrolysis, with the recently announced Gigastack project at Humber Refinery involving Phillips 66, Ørsted and ITM.

Zero Carbon Humber

Future of Mobility

Foundations of the Forecourt of the Future

Sweden ranks third for EV sales in Europe and has a biofuels policy with the overall objective of reaching 'Net Zero' emissions by 2045. This approach is resulting in a technologically diverse vehicle Parc that is changing the nature of the fuel retail network.

For example, the Circle K retail site at Värnamo offers consumers standard diesel and 95 RON petrol alongside B100, E85 (high blend biofuels) and fast charging for Electric Vehicles. The site also offers AdBlue® for the latest diesel vehicles.

This diverse product offer is combined with a café and convenience store, demonstrating how a retail forecourt can evolve to meet the latest consumer demands and providing a template for the mobility hub of the future.

Circle K iStock
Image: iStock
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