Pathways to a Sustainable European Energy System - the Role of the Refinery Sector


There are around 100 oil refineries in Europe. Together they account for 13 % of the energy use in European industry (EU27) and their products generate substantial CO2 emissions. The energy demand in the refineries has increased due to tightening of fuel specifications, increasing sulphur rich crude oil and a growing demand for lighter products (e.g. diesel and jet fuel). At the same time several studies have shown that large energy savings can be achieved in refineries. Rapidly increasing focus on CO2 mitigation and changing conditions (climate change policy, energy market conditions and demand for renewable feedstocks, shifting product mix) create new opportunities for a refinery. Today several research and development project also investigate the possibility for a refinery to implement biomass in the process.

Which technologies and system solutions to be implemented in the future is likely to depend on the development and transition of the European and global transportation system. The size of the CO2 emissions reduction that can be achieved in a refinery depends on several general as well as site-specific factors such as future fuel prices and CO2 emission trading costs, product mix, the geographical location of the refinery and the technologies installed at the refinery today. For example: The cost of CCS will be lower for refineries located close to CO2 storage sites and the closer the refinery is to a district heating network the larger the potential for heat export will be. Thus, it is necessary to have a good knowledge about the surrounding energy systems as well as infrastructure to be able to describe the overall potential for CO2 emission reduction in a refinery.
This PhD project is a part of a large project at Chalmers called Pathways to Sustainable Europe Energy System and the aim is to study the role of the refinery industry in the transition towards a sustainable energy system. The intention of the project is to identify robust and cost effective pathways that reduce the CO2 emissions from the refinery. To achieve that, a detailed analysis of future energy saving technologies as well as all refineries in Europe is necessary.
The considered procedure in this project is:
Inventory of technologies and systems that reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions in oil refineries. The most important technical measures identified are: increased heat integration, combined heat and power production, export of excess heat, increased use of biomass (both as feedstock for co-production and for hydrogen production) and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).  Case study at PREEM, Lysekil, in order to evaluate which parameters that affect the system. Techno-economical analysis of case study with the MIND – program. Creation of  a database describing Europe’s refinery, starting with complex refineries. Transformation of PREEM-model into general model for all complex refineries in Europe. Techno-economical analysis of all complex refineries given different future marker scenarios.

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Oct 2013.