The European Union, through the SET-Plan, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, to have a 20% share of energy from low-carbon energy sources, and to have a 20% reduction in the use of primary energy by improving energy efficiency by 2020, with a long-term ambition to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050. In the way of Process Intensification, the European Commission promoted the electricity-based processes: so, low-carbon electricity can be used for heat generation and/or steam generation in electric boilers replacing natural gas-fired boilers (Power-to-Heat). This route is already considered or even operated by large chemical producers because it can be flexibly employed as a demand-side management measure to use the low-cost intermittent power supply from renewables. Due to the substitution of natural gas, it constitutes a low-carbon measure.
The use of electricity in power-to-heat applications or hybrid boiler concepts switching between natural gas and electricity-based heating provides several advantages. Electricity-based heating has a fast response time and can therefore flexibly be used to valorize the intermittent surplus supply of renewable electricity. This way, the chemical industry can offer an active contribution to the demand side management and enhanced flexibility of the power sector, and on the other hand, the chemical industry can benefit from periods with low electricity prices. This can be perceived as an element of industrial symbiosis between the chemical industry and the power sector.