The energy transition consists of no longer using oil-based sources to produce energy, instead relying on sun, wind and agricultural residue based sources, and the development of new plant technologies to produce the materials and products that we use in our daily lives, by using raw materials and energy sources that are not derived from oil. The energy transition is also a new economic model, one that shifts from a linear (produce/consume/dispose) model to a circular one (produce/consume/recycle/reproduce), by using materials and substances obtained through recycling and designing products in order to extend their life and increase their circularity potential.
The energy transition, meaning the gradual shift to an economic, manufacturing and life system based on the non-wasting of resources and decarbonisation achieved through the increasing use of renewable resources with a low climate impact, has three prongs: the production of renewable energy, the production of materials and products with a decreasing carbon footprint achieved through new plant technologies, and waste recycling. Waste recycling allows to produce new materials and new substances that have a lower environmental impact compared to those that use virgin raw materials, as they save resources by reusing existing ones; the materials and substances produced through recycling can then be used again in the goods manufacturing and energy and chemical industries, thereby improving the overall environmental impact.
The model developed by NextChem is a circular industrial and technological platform, which includes these three areas of the energy transition in an integrated way: the recycling of plastics to produce new recycled materials with a low-carbon impact for use in the manufacturing of goods, the chemical recycling of plastic waste and dry fractions that cannot be recovered in other ways in order to produce circular chemical substances and fuels with a low-carbon impact to be used in sustainable transport and many industrial processes, and the production of green hydrogen using renewable energy that has applications such as sustainable transport. Our model strives for carbon neutrality, i.e. ensuring that the CO2 emissions created from our recycling plants are offset by the CO2 saved from avoiding waste incineration and the CO2 that is saved by using circular products instead of those created using fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas. Our model also strives to be zero-waste, i.e. ensuring that the waste produced from the recycling processes is constantly decreasing towards zero.
A model of this type is the model of the future, but we can start creating it today. It is already possible to create green circular districts with these characteristics, technologies and ambitions.