Journal article
Environmental and economic assessment of global and German production locations for CO2-based methanol and naphtha

Publication Details
Kaiser, S.; Prontnicki, K.; Bringezu, S.
Publication year:
Green Chemistry
Pages range:
Journal acronym:
Green Chem
Volume number:
Issue number:


The utilization of CO2 in combination with
renewable energy and water is a promising alternative for the use of
fossil hydrocarbons in the chemical industry. In countries like Germany,
the required amounts of renewable energy for a large-scale production
will most probably exceed their availability. To gain more information
about the environmental impacts and economic parameters of a potential
import of CO2-based chemicals, 19 representative international production locations were identified considering energy, CO2,
and water availability and compared to 2 locations in Germany. Life
cycle and economic assessments were done for all locations for CO2-based
methanol and naphtha. The results show that location-differences
determine environmental impacts and economic parameters with a tendency
of wind-based locations outperforming those using photovoltaic cells.
Comparing both chemicals, methanol shows better results in every
category with the examined German locations showing promising results.
While a decrease of the climate footprint can be reached for both
chemicals at all locations in relation to the conventional alternatives,
they also show a trade-off between the climate footprint and at least
two other environmental impacts which raises the risk of problem
shifting. The economic results imply that for some locations a
competetive production is in range in the medium term even without
changed policies. At the same time, the inclusion of chemicals into
carbon pricing schemes may not be sufficient for every production
location, since the calculated break-even carbon prices for methanol
range from 284 € per t CO2 to 1.619 € per t CO2 in the status quo and from 11 € per t CO2 to 735 € per t CO2
in 2030. The high variances of the environmental and economic results
indicate the necessity for a careful selection process of production
locations. Importantly, desalination of water did not significantly
raise the environmental impacts or production costs. Therefore, it might
be promising to develop production plants in regions with very good
conditions for renewable energy production while planning to use saline
water to avoid additional pressure on water systems.

Last updated on 2021-09-09 at 23:40