The chemical sector is both a major consumer of energy and a producer of energy efficient products.
One of the largest chemical companies, Dow Chemical, has invested heavily in energy efficiency projects to reduce its own energy consumption and produces products for the energy efficiency sector. For example, Dow Chemical produces several insulation products for buildings (GREAT STUFF™ PRO Insulating Foam Sealant, STYROFOAM SIS™ Brand Structural Insulated Sheathing and THERMAX™ Insulation, FROTH-PAK™ Foam Insulation kit). These products and some of Dow Chemical’s other products, for example solar shingles, were used in zero energy homes launched in Michigan in May 2010 by Dow Chemical and Cobblestone Homes. It expected that these homes would save USD 3,507 in lower energy costs than comparable homes and would avoid 33,855 lbs of CO2 emissions every year.
In 2009, Dow Biocides, a division of Dow Chemical, announced that it had significantly reduced its energy consumption by simplifying a complex multi-step synthesis chemical reaction for glutaraldehyde into a one-step reaction.
BASF, the largest chemical company, uses self-generation combined heat and power (CHP) to meet over 70% of the company’s energy demand. In 2010, it was estimated that this resulted in savings of more than 12 million MWh of fossil fuel-generated electricity. This does not include the use of the Verbund concept (the vertical and horizontal integration of production plants, energy and waste flows, logistics and site infrastructure) at the company’s sites. BASF is also considering the use of on-site renewable energy generation. Energy efficiency at BASF is estimated to have resulted in savings of around 2.6 million tons of oil equivalents a year and a reduction of around 6 million tons of CO2 emissions a year.
Separate subsidiaries and sites of BASF are deploying energy efficiency. For example, Wintershall, a BASF subsidiary, is planning to stop continuous flaring of gas associated with crude oil production in routine operations at its’ oil production sites by 2012. At the company’s large production sites in Ludwigshafen and Schwarzheide in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium trains instead of lorries are used to move materials, reducing the company’s carbon emissions by up to 65%. Furthermore, an Eco Efficiency analysis tool has been implemented to minimise energy and material use at the Ludwigshafen site.