Pathways to 2050 for the “climate neutrality”



by Massimo Medugno, DG Assocarta

The challenge of climate change is a global emergency, but at the same time it should be a great innovative opportunity for the European industry.

“Climate neutrality” within 2050 is a common target of European countries that must be considered for its own diversity, which includes reaching the ultimate goal deploying simultaneously different solutions to achieve a fair and sustainable transition.

To be consistent with the diversity of the several European areas and the circular economy, it’s essential to highlight the relationship between consumption of natural gas and those countries using more recycled fibres, unlike those ones with an easier access to large forest resources. These regional circumstances must be kept in mind to accomplish the common goal.

Bigger investments should be necessary for safeguarding the competitiveness of the industry, especially for those companies that are vulnerable to competition with other EU countries. Therefore a harmonized policy is needed, avoiding potential distortions among countries, by considering the circumstances and features of each Member State for instance, natural resources, recycling, energy sources.

“Climate neutrality” does not mean  “electrifying”

Pulp & Paper Industry is a pioneer in the circular economy, so the fight against global warming is an opportunity for the sector.

The industrial process as paper sector requires a large amounts of heat, which implies a high energy consumption. Renewable gases (biogas, biomethane, green energy) and synthetic gases are a primary pillar to meet the thermic demand required by industrial processes and that cannot be achieved through electrification.

So, the renewable fuels will replace in a progressive and sustainable way the use of fossil fuels. Natural gas must play a key role in the transition, since this fuel produces less CO2 emissions of all.

Europe has a diversified gas supply, whose security has to be even most strengthen.

In this direction Italy and Mediterranean countries have to play a role to increase the diversification of source and security

The best performance of the existing gas’ infrastructures must be supported in the transition until it can be replaced entirely by the use of renewable gases.

One of the main drivers of emission reduction must remain energy efficiency, producing more with fewer resources.

The best renewable energy is the saved one!

The hybridization of factories with renewable facilities will help the emission process by applying electricity from renewable sources to preheat process fluids.

In conclusion the high-efficiency cogeneration is a very relevant player in the challenge of “climate neutrality” within 2050 for the following raisons:

– providing heat needs to industrial processes, overcoming the technical limitations of heat pumps and solar thermic energy;

– allocating generators of electricity, savings of transport and distribution losses;

– helping to introduce renewable gases without huge additional investments and the hybridization capability with renewable facilities (including the installation of batteries to store excess electricity to inject it into the grid during scarcity times);

– providing the security and the continuity to the electrical system, balancing the variability of renewable energies.

Last but not least the Circular Economy has a central role in this project. The “waste” should be seen as a secondary raw material that can be reintegrated in the production cycle.

As you know, most of recycling of paper in Europe happens in countries with a high share of natural gas in the paper industry’s energy mix, where recycled paper is by far the main source of domestic raw material input for paper making.

The use of non-hazardous waste generated in the paper production process as a fuel in energy valorization system is a step forward in circularity model and towards the achievement of Zero Waste goal.