The UK chemicals sector covers a diverse range of processes, from large volume complex processes producing basic chemicals to smaller batch processing for speciality chemicals and pharmaceutical ingredients. The UK Governments Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Roadmap to 2050 for the Chemical Industry published in March 2015 reports Energy efficiency and heat recovery technologies have been identified in the roadmap as a significant potential contributor to decarbonisation. This covers a group of technologies which are well established and so there is a relatively low technical risk with their implementation. The Industrial Decarbonisation Roadmap 2050 report most importantly reports that economic support is required for Heat Recovery technologies to be rolled out across the sector.
Energy is used in the form of natural gas to generate process steam or for direct heating and the use of electricity to run pumps, fans, compressors, chillers, and lighting. The combustion of fossil fuel, indirect emissions from electricity consumption, and process emissions make up the chemicals sector carbon footprint of 18.4 million tonnes in 2012 (data sources include CCA data, EU ETS and NAEI), this is one of the largest energy-using sectors in the UK, consuming 16.5% of all industrial energy. Many chemical processes require a certain amount of energy in order to achieve the desired chemical reactions this is a main challenge for decarbonisation of the sector.
The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) is now in phase 2 consulting with industry stakeholders to determine what techno-economic support actions are required for UK companies to adopt Heat Recovery technologies to improve their electrical efficiency, cost competitiveness whilst meeting decarbonisation targets. The DECC Action Plan for incentives will be published in Decemeber 2016.