Special Section: The Energy Transition: Commercializing Decarbonization Technologies | AIChE

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Special Section: The Energy Transition: Commercializing Decarbonization Technologies

Special Section

An important part of moving sustainable technologies to market will be addressing the technoeconomic challenges associated with these technologies during project development. Pilot testing is one key step of de-risking commercialization.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives that safeguard our environment in a responsible manner have been around since the early 2000s and have made for great social media campaigns. However, when it came time to fund many of these ESG projects, most never made it past conceptualization due to obstacles and challenges in securing project funding. Ultimately, the return on investment to develop and commercialize new technologies that decarbonize manufacturing processes and utilize sustainable feedstock materials wasn’t attractive compared to traditional carbon-intensive manufacturing processes and petroleum-based feedstock materials. Without a unified commitment to ESG initiatives and the allocation of funding to develop new decarbonization technologies, carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, and the direct effects of greenhouse gases impacting our planet are increasingly recognizable.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed change and unprecedented growth in project development related to decarbonization and energy transition projects that utilize sustainable feedstock sources. According to a recent report published by Industrial Info Resources, there has been a 17% uptick in chemical project spending since 2022, and currently, $380 billion worth of projects worldwide include an ESG component (1). While not all of these projects will be built, the appetite for investment is strong, and many of these new technologies will be commercialized.

What has changed? We have reached a tipping point where consumers are now demanding more sustainable and socially responsible products, and government policies are encouraging the industry to invest in new technologies to develop sustainable solutions and achieve net-zero carbon emissions.

Furthermore, corporations have acknowledged ESG initiatives as a strategic component of long-term corporate growth and security, and a critical part of long-term competitiveness. Today, they are leading the industry’s race to net-zero goals and have committed to achieving these goals.

From an investment standpoint, individual and institutional investors recognize ESG projects’ value creation. They call for sustainable projects in their portfolios and invest heavily in new companies that are developing novel decarbonization technologies that deliver long-term value vs. short-term results. This article discusses how pilot testing and modularization can help mitigate the technical and financial risks associated with investing in ESG projects and decarbonization technologies...

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