Methanol: Future-Proof Enabler for Decarbonization

Methanol: Future-Proof Enabler for Decarbonization

Methanex produces methanol that is essential to everyday life today and a pathway to a low-carbon future tomorrow. As a key chemical building block or as a fuel, when made from renewable sources, methanol can help society achieve its decarbonization goals.

Methanol’s Role in a Low-Carbon Economy

As society and industry commit to decarbonization, the world faces a dilemma: while demand for petrochemicals and global transportation of goods is growing, so are the pressures to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of these products and activities. Methanol, as both a chemical building block and a fuel, can help resolve this dilemma. Methanol can help meet the increased demand for petrochemicals-based products and reduce air pollution and GHG emissions from combustion-related applications. Methanol can also be made from renewable sources and support the long-term decarbonization of both the chemicals that make modern life possible and the transportation sector. Here are five key reasons why we believe methanol is “future-proof”:

  1. Methanol can support the decarbonization of the shipping industry – The shipping industry facilitates more than 75 percent of world trade. While shipping is the most energy-efficient¹ way to carry cargo (in terms of energy use per tonne-kilometre transported), it accounts for 3 percent of man-made CO2 emissions. Transitioning maritime shipping to lower-carbon fuels could have tremendous economic and environmental benefits. Using conventional methanol as a fuel significantly reduces air emissions such as SOx, NOx, and PM during combustion on a tank-to-wake basis and reduces carbon emissions by 15 per cent² compared to other fossil fuels. The carbon reductions are greater moving from conventional to lower carbon forms of methanol. Investing in low- carbon and green methanol can support the decarbonization goals the shipping industry has set for itself.
  2. Methanol can support decarbonization pathways in developing economies – Although electric vehicle adoption is rising quickly across advanced economies, developing economies will transition more slowly to lower-carbon fuels, not achieving net-zero goals until after 2050 even in the most aggressive International Energy Agency scenarios. These countries will require affordable energy options that still set them on a path to decarbonization. Methanol can be used as a vehicle fuel, heavy cargo fuel and even cooking fuel. While not all forms of energy can be moved or exported easily, methanol can be shipped across the world and has been safely transported for decades.
  3. Methanol can leverage existing infrastructure –One of the greatest challenges in achieving the transition to a low-carbon economy is the massive investment required in energy infrastructure. Right now, one of the competing alternative fuels for transport is liquefied natural gas (LNG), which requires insulated tanks capable of maintaining an extremely cold temperature to preserve its liquefied state. Methanol is liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, allowing the continued use of the existing network of pipelines, storage tanks and ports that store methanol across the world. Engine designs require relatively minor modifications to use methanol for combustion in cars, trucks, and ships, making a transition to methanol relatively easy and more affordable.
  4. Methanol plays an important role in society as an essential ingredient in everyday life – Methanol, like other petrochemicals, is part of the fabric of modern society as an ingredient in clothing, construction materials, packaging, pharmaceuticals, and other everyday items. It is a chemical building block for many products that will help make our lives more sustainable, including energy-efficient buildings, electric cars, solar panels, and wind turbines. According to the IEA³, petrochemicals are poised to consume an additional 56 billion m³ of natural gas by 2030, equivalent to about half of Canada’s total annual gas consumption today. If we can transform methanol production to reduce carbon emissions, we can continue to meet that demand in ways that support the transition.
  5. Methanol can be produced in alternative ways – Depending on the feedstock used to produce methanol and associated carbon emissions, the resulting methanol can be categorized as high- or low-carbon intensity. However, the end result is the same essential building block chemical. Therefore, blue, or green (e-methanol, biomethanol) methanol when blended with conventional methanol or by itself can be used in the same applications, both chemical and fuel related, providing flexibility to meet society’s product and emissions requirements.



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