In 2021, the chemical industry had a total turnover of roughly 172.4 billion euros and thus contributed to 2-3% of the gross value added of the German economy. As things stand, the chemical industry is dependent on fossil fuels such as naphtha or natural gas for raw materials and energy. In addition, the chemical industry has strongly interlinked value chains, as it often aims for the greatest possible efficiency within a framework of interconnected structures. Due to the use of fossil raw materials and energy sources, the chemical industry generates comparatively high emissions.
Hydrogen and synthesis gas are currently produced from fossil fuels for use in the chemical industry. To make the industry climate-neutral, these production processes must be changed, for example by using electrolysers. Also necessary is a shift in the raw material base away from fossil fuels, for example through CO2-based processes, the use of biomass or more extensive recycling. The defossilisation of process heat is another important pillar to drive the transformation of the chemical industry.
Future hydrogen demand
The H2-Compass evaluation shows that there will be no noticeable increase in the existing hydrogen demand of about 37 terawatt hours by 2030. However, much higher hydrogen demands of between 130 and 280 terawatt hours are projected to achieve climate neutrality by 2045/2050. The increase in hydrogen demand results, among other things, from the use of hydrogen for CO2-based processes (Fischer-Tropsch, methanol-to-X), the use of H2 and its derivatives in the area of process heat and for the reprocessing of pyrolysis products.