Sasol Chemicals plans to double its use of green steam from what it claims is a first-of-a-kind biomass cogeneration facility next to its Brunsbüttel facility in Germany.
Sasol Chemicals will lease land adjacent to its plant to Hamburger Energiewerke, Hamburg’s municipal utility, which plans to build the facility by the end of 2024. When fully operational in 2025, the plant will supply at least 70,000MWh of steam to Sasol each year, enabling the company to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from the plant by approximately 13,000MT annually. In addition to green steam, the plant will produce more than 90,000MWh of sustainable electricity annually.
Jens Straatmann, Senior Vice President, Eurasia Chemicals, said, “Increasing the use of green steam is a key enabler of further reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and will get us closer to our goal of reducing our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 30% by 2030.”
The facility will be the first large–scale power generation plant to operate almost exclusively with well-pressed or dried fermentation residues.
Feedstock will be sourced from plants that are certified under Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. The plant will benefit local agriculture because much of this material is surplus that is currently going to waste; now, it will become the heat source for the chemical building blocks of products used in personal care, cleaning and industrial applications.
Since 2014 the Brunsbüttel facility has used green steam from another nearby biomass facility. The two facilities combined will be able to supply half of the plant’s steam consumption.
Sasol’s Brunsbüttel facility, its largest in Germany, is located 80km northwest of Hamburg near the Kiel Canal and produces a broad range of organic and inorganic products. The site’s organic products are used in a range of daily applications including detergents and cleaning agents, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, as well as in various technical applications. The site’s inorganic products are key components in catalysts, high-performance abrasives, and polymer additives.
South Africa is set to develop its hydrogen economy further after researchers from the Catalysis Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT) collaborated with Sasol to study the use of commercial iron catalyst in the conversion of CO2 and green hydrogen to green chemicals and jet fuel, it was announced last September.
SASOL wrestles with rising prices in South Africa
Industrial gas users are “extremely concerned” that Sasol Gas is increasing prices by 96% and have warned the increase might filter through to other products, according to South Africa media reports.
Such increases are ”untenable and pose a significant risk to an already struggling and weakened South African economy”, according to comments attributed to IGUA-SA executive officer Jaco Human.
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has been alerted to the concerns regarding the imminent excessive increases in gas prices and said it did not approve such increases.
”NERSA does not expect licensees to exploit the current international gas price crisis to the detriment of consumers and the industry. Therefore, NERSA will investigate any possible unreasonable or excessive pricing cases, and further collaborate with other administrative bodies that have concurrent jurisdiction on this matter,” according to a statement.
Natural gas consumption in South Africa has remained stagnant in the recent past, accounting for less than 3% of the country’s energy mix according to the latest version of country’s Gas Master Plan, which was issued in late 2021.
The plan highlights the benefits of developing a domestic gas market to reduce emissions from coal and drive economic activity and employment if sourced from domestic resources.
It identifies a list of priorities, principally in the power sector, such as coal-fired power plants reaching the end of their life or potentially convertible oil-fired power plants.
However, considering the lead time to develop new supply chains, IEA forecasts do not expect significant change in South African gas demand by 2025.
“Moreover, the Gas Master Plan emphasises the importance of affordability as a key success factor to the development of gas, which again casts a potential shadow on gas based supply options, especially LNG import projects, in the current price environment,” it reports.
”The country’s short-term power supply plan (Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme), launched in 2020 and initially expected to deliver 1 845 MW of renewable and LNG-fired capacity for 20 years from 2022, is still on hold at the time of writing due to multiple delays.”