Address from the Minister, Mona Neubaur, to the ‘CO2-based Fuels and Chemicals Conference 2024’

As we are setting up our industrial region for net zero, a prominent role is set aside for the chemical industry. Some 98 per cent of industry value chains in North Rhine-Westphalia build on chemical products, with all sectors facing considerable challenges. The transition requires sizeable spending on new technologies and infrastructure. In a parallel effort, we need to put the consumption of energy and other resources on a more efficient footing whilst reducing the use of fossil feedstocks and energy sources. The chemical industry is made to stand out by its pivotal role in value creation and as an enabler of many transformation processes.

As an energy-hungry industry which occupies an early stage of the value chain, the chemical sector is a key trade in North Rhine-Westphalia, and one that we are keen to hold on to. The sector has been hit particularly hard during the past few years, in a period dominated by a multitude of crises. The challenges facing the chemical industry have been exacerbated by high energy prices, international competition, scarcity of raw materials and supply chain issues. It is therefore all the more important for us to create and maintain an overall business climate in North Rhine-Westphalia that fosters competitiveness of local industries.

We are encouraged by the advances in renewable energy expansion and the rapid development of the hydrogen sector. Another thing that is moving forward nicely is the creation of a sustainable circular economy, which is making great strides in several jurisdictions. Here, carbon capture and utilisation is providing the chemical industry in particular with the opportunity to dovetail climate action and resource security. At the same time, there are still some key political and technological questions to be addressed, such as those relating to carbon loop closure or the permanent storage of CO2.

When it comes to dealing with these issues and unlocking the potential of CCU for the chemical industry, the 12th CO2-based Fuels and Chemicals Conference makes a significant contribution. It is vitally important to have a sustainable and thus competitive industry if we want to retain our economic strength. The insight and perspectives delivered by and during the conference, along with the potential for exchange and cooperation, will be of huge benefit. On that note, I wish those taking part a very productive conference and much food for thought.