Implementing the exit from coal and the planned end to the use of fossil raw materials will bring far-reaching changes in the coming decades, affecting all areas of daily life, the economy and various sectors (power, transport, industry, commercial/buildings) and also infrastructure and land use. To minimise the risk of structural rifts and social and demographic disruption as far as possible, value chains and industrial workplaces with a highly qualified workforce must be maintained on-site as much as possible and new ones developed.
This applies in particular to the Rhenish lignite area and the Ruhr district. Society’s goal of transforming the power and raw material supply system can succeed only with an end-to-end approach encompassing all sectors. In addition to the expansion of renewables, the future system for supplying energy and raw materials – based on fluctuating power generation using photovoltaics and wind power – will therefore need to store large volumes of energy for the shorter and longer term and transport it across great distances.
In collaboration with partners BP Europe, Jülich Research Centre and RWE Renewables, research is therefore being conducted into the fundamental feasibility of a demonstration system for the manufacture of renewable synthetic raw fuels (methanol, Fischer-Tropsch products) based on sewage sludge (and other forms of biomass as appropriate) and sustainable H2 at an RWE location in NRW, and their large-scale further processing and use in the Ruhr district. The approach is directed towards demonstrating the development and utilisation of biogenic CO2 for the production of climate-neutral fuels (e.g. aviation fuel), and making use of biomass in the form of sewage sludge in the process. The potential of the demonstrated technology will be explored as a blueprint for the smart application of integrated energy beyond NRW’s borders and to bolster the regions within the area.