Energy efficiency is an important competitiveness factor for the European chemical industry. The sector has constantly decreased its energy intensity over the past years. As a solutions provider to other sectors, the chemical industry also contributes to improving energy efficiency in areas such as buildings and transport.
Chemistry and the Low-Carbon Economy
Learn about how the chemistry industry is helping to overcome this challenge with innovative products and operational efficiency - insulation materials in buildings, energy-saving light bulbs and plastic packaging, just to name a few.
Energy efficiency – a core competence
Energy costs represent a significant portion of the production cost of the chemical industry. In some cases, they can even exceed half of the total production cost. European chemical companies have every reason to focus on energy efficiency to succeed in the global competition.
The chemical industry has already taken many voluntary measures to improve its energy efficiency, for example through process intensification and integration, novel energy-saving processes and the installation of Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Between 1995 and 2008, the EU chemical industry decreased its energy consumption per unit of production by 41%.
As the chemical industry strongly relies on fossil fuels as raw material, there are limits to achieving further efficiency gains, and especially absolute reductions within the current technical possibilities. Moreover, chemical products are increasingly needed for the growing markets in energy-efficient products and renewable energy. A strong focus on research and development and support for innovation are essential to enable further improvements.
To push back the limits of energy efficiency, the chemical industry continues to optimise its processes and engages in various voluntary industry initiatives. Cefic supports EU innovation activities for process optimisation, European projects such as the CARE+ energy efficiency programme for chemical SMEs and international research initiatives on future technologies in cooperation with the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA).
Enabling energy efficiency in other sectors
The chemical industry has huge innovation potential to enable the step-change solutions needed to achieve the EU’s long-term energy and climate targets.
The chemical industry is a main contributor to energy efficiency improvements throughout the economy – in sectors such as construction, information technology, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, homecare products and textiles. For example, chemical-based building insulation products significantly reduce the energy needed to heat residential and commercial buildings.
Chemistry also enables high-tech solutions for the production of advanced materials and technologies for renewable energy recovery and energy storage. The energy needed to manufacture these products and materials is largely paid back in energy and emissions savings over their entire lifecycle.
Chemistry and Energy-Efficient Buildings
Learn about how products that depend on chemistry - insulation, pipe and pipe insulation, air sealing, reflective roof coatings and pigments, and windows - help increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions in the buildings sector.
Cefic position on EU energy efficiency policy
Energy efficiency is addressed in the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy as part of the flagship initiative “A resource-efficient Europe”. The European Commission published its Energy Efficiency Plan in March 2011 and a proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency in June 2011.
Cefic urges the EU to stimulate competitive, energy-efficient growth by smart measures and reliable and competitive energy supplies – instead of introducing a general absolute energy consumption cap as suggested in the Commission’s proposal.
EU industrial energy efficiency has significantly improved in the last decade through investments in efficiency measures, and has been further incentivised through the CO2 cap-and-trade system. The greatest potential for cost-efficient energy efficiency improvements can be found in sectors such as buildings and transport.
Additionally, Cefic urges the Commission to avoid measures and burdens that would overlap with and duplicate existing regulations such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the proposed Energy Taxation Directive (ETD).