Turning Vision 2050 Into a Reality

Nov 27, 2018   Written by Stephen George, Chief Economist

Vision 2050 will present key aspirations for greenhouse gas reduction, technology leadership and renewables focus, which help to define the global direction of travel in the decades ahead. Vision 2050 starts with the premise that Europe and the world will continue to rely upon liquid transport fuels for the foreseeable future. Electric and hybrid cars – alternatively fueled vehicles (AFVs) - will play a role in private transport, but they cannot meet the needs of the entire transport sector, much of which will continue to rely upon liquid fuels.

Europe’s refiners are quick to agree that there are no ‘silver bullet’ technologies that will deliver all of the benefits in one package. It’s not that simple. Rather, a broad framework of technologies in the refinery setting will be managed at an asset-specific level to deliver significant greenhouse gas reductions. New technologies such as green hydrogen are useful in upgrading technologies to continue the trend away from heavy fuel oil use and to remove more pollutant sulphur from the fuel mix.

Digitalization will also drive continued efficiencies in energy optimization, workforce upskilling and plant reliability. Alongside evolving AFV use and the development of other renewable energy, these new technologies are expected to lower Europe’s share of global carbon emissions from around 10% today to nearer 6% by 2050, with a long-term aspiration of completely decarbonizing the continent’s energy needs.

Vision 2050 is a roadmap for a viable future for Europe’s refineries, but it is not a simple way forward. It can be difficult, looking at your organization, to know if you are ready for these challenges. However, refiners should be well positioned to manage the complex and expensive problems required by the energy transition. To do this, refiners need to invest in robust technology solutions. Adopting an Operational Excellence framework integrates strategy, business processes, people and technology to address business, asset, organization and applied technology challenges.

Conducting a pre-investment analysis of new technology to ensure the new investment choices are robust and resilient will help manage the risks from adopting new technology. It is also worth considering simulation software to simulate the impact of adopting new technologies and unconventional feedstocks both on refinery yield and financial performance.

Refiners must also ensure that they are digitalization-ready by looking at the new technologies they are putting in place and also their employees and their capability to cope with these new developments. Translating Vision 2050 into practice will require Europe’s refiners to rethink and rebuild their long-term strategies, along the way transforming their organizations into modern, flexible knowledge-based enterprises.

Read more in our whitepaper 'European Refining 2050: Turning the vision into reality'