22 Sep 2020

A Clean Planet for all. Impact assessment on the potential implications for our refining system and the link with Refinery 2050 (Concawe Report 20/20)

Report no. 20/20: The “A Clean Planet for All” [ACP4A 2018] long-term strategy published by the European Commission (DG CLIMA) in 2018 analyses different long-term scenarios that could lead to significant GHG emission reduction levels on the way towards a carbon-neutral and circular European economy by 2050. Focussing on three of these scenarios as defined in the DG CLIMA publication (2050 baseline, Power-to-X and 1.5TECH), this report examines the implications for the EU refining sector, the CO2 emissions reductions that could be achieved through the whole value chain and the key barriers and enablers.

With the appropriate combination of resources, including some crude oil (driven by the domestic jet fossil fuel component defined in A Clean Planet for all), bio-feeds and e-fuels (from captured CO2 and electrolytic hydrogen), the European refining system, even adapted to suit the domestic demand as much as possible, is forced to export important surpluses of oil-base gasoline, gasoil and heavy fuel oil components, and even some bio-based ones, to match the domestic demand of Jet Fuel. The fossil fuels consumption mix foreseen by the European Commission’s report is indeed so weighted towards Jet fuel that no refinery can come close to technically realising this yield on the crude barrel. One can question whether these levels of ‘fossil’ and ‘bio’ exports could be sustained in the low carbon world of 2050.

Overall, this Concawe study points out the risk of these scenarios, which will add significant burdens to the EU refining system in 2050. Based on the points described above, this could potentially reach a point where meeting the defined domestic demand (and fuel composition), as described in the European Commission’s report, could not be economically feasible for the refining system in Europe with the consequent refinery closures, being replaced by fossil jet fuel imports from other regions of the world to Europe, with no benefit for climate change globally.

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