This paper presents the development of an open-source toolkit aimed to help industrial clusters design (economically and environmentally) optimal pathways towards net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, critical to reaching the Paris and Glasgow climate ambitions. The decarbonization of industrial processes bares many challenges; high energy intensity and non-energy-related emissions, cost-optimized workstreams with limited margins, but also non-technical aspects such as job security and social equality within and among regions. Strategic planning is essential to achieve sustainable industries promptly. Moving as a cluster of industrial sites, rather than each site on its own, can leverage synergies and further accelerate the transition. However, such a level of integration requires further planning and an understanding of all incorporated industrial processes. The here presented toolkit fills this void, by enabling a user to investigate net-zero pathways for any cluster of industrial sites. The toolkit builds on an optimization framework which solves the necessary technological interventions and transport infrastructure (e.g., CO2 pipelines) to reach a defined emission target. The problem is a mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) implementation, following a Resource Technology Network (RTN) formulation. The toolkit allows the user to solve for optimal, instantaneous configurations as a snapshot and then explore time-phased transformation pathways which reach that snapshot. The pathways follow a backcasting approach bounded by user-defined state gates. This publication explains the methodology of the toolkit, which is currently being developed as part of the work within the UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC). The functionality of the toolkit has been tested on a small example of a hypothetical cluster, which consisted of a refinery, a steel mill, a power plant, and a cement plant. The outcome was a pathway for the installation of carbon capture technologies, direct air carbon capture plants, CO2 pipelines, and CO2 injection wells. The pathway provided information on the cluster setup over three investment rounds, which ultimately reached net-zero CO2 emissions.
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Küng, L., Strunge, T., Sunny, N., Nie, Z., Tariq, N., Korre, A., Shah, N., & Van der Spek, M. (2022). An Open-Source Toolkit to Design and Evaluate Net-Zero Pathways for Industrial Clusters. doi:10.2139/ssrn.4286330.