Carbon Transition Model (CTM) (2020-now)

We created an open source and open data tool that allows simulations of different routes to make the fossil intensive industry CO2 neutral.

Carbon Transition Model

Why a new tool for the fossil intensive industry?

In 2020, several companies (Dow, Nouryon, Arcellor Mittal, Tata Steel, a.o.), an NGO (Urgenda), and two knowledge institutes (CIEP and Utrecht University) initiated a project under the coordination from the Institute of Sustainable Process Technology to build a tool that would allow simulations of different routes to make the fossil intensive industry CO2 neutral. Such a tool did not exist in 2020. The tool was named the Carbon Transition Model (CTM).

What does the CTM do?

The CTM can simulate seven base routes for an industrial site to become (more) CO2 neutral between 2020 and 2050. The seven routes are: (1) change of energetic and/or non-energetic input to the industrial process, (2) change of the industrial process, (3) change in the amount of emissions captured, stored and/or reused, (4) change in the carbon volume in the end products that leave the site, (5) recycling of end products, (6) new cluster formation, and (7) emission reduction in electricity or heat bought from third parties.

The CTM in its first version contains full energy and material balances for a site and it models the assets on a site to a detailed level of approximately 10-15 assets.

Currently, the following Dutch industrial sites have been modelled: six refineries, three base chemical companies with steam crackers, two steel plants (one in Flanders), and two fertilizer plants.

Which part of potential emission reduction does the CTM cover?

Version 1 of the CTM covers roughly 90% of natural gas, 100% of crude oil, and 100% of coal of non-energetic energy consumption (or feedstock) of the total Dutch industry. It also covers about 30% of natural gas, 80% of crude oil, and 100% of coal of the energetic energy consumption of the total Dutch industry. A total of 40 Mton of scope 1 emissions (incl. Arcelor Mittal in Flanders), 3 Mton of scope 2 emissions and 110 Mton of scope 3 emissions are covered. The scope 3 emissions emerge largely in other countries and other Dutch sectors as scope 1 emissions. In total, the CTM covers approximately 150 Mton CO2 emissions. This is about the same amount as the target for the entire Dutch society at 25% emissions reduction with respect to 1990. In the Urgenda ruling, the emissions for Dutch society were set at 166 Mton for 2020.

Where do we stand with the CTM?

The first version of the CTM has been demonstrated to a large number of companies, government and NGO’s. A number of lessons from the CTM have already been input to government policy.

Where do we go from here?

In the second half of 2021, we will develop version 2 of the CTM .In the course of 2022, version 3 of the CTM will be brought online. One of the developments that is foreseen for version 2 is a connection between the CTM and the Energy Transition Model (ETM). This will benefit both models. The ETM will be able to simulate scenarios with a much finer level of detail for various industries, while the CTM will be able to calculate the use and cost of for example electricity and hydrogen at an hourly basis instead of the annual basis that is used in version 1.

Version 3 of the CTM will not only be online, but also open source and free of charge to use.

Strategic Binary Uncertainty Reduction

The ultimate goal of the CTM is to facilitate discussions between industry, government grid operators and NGOs in order to reduce strategic binary uncertainty. With this, we mean that unless we know well in advance if an industrial site chooses for electrification, hydrogenation, CCS, or green molecule import, it will be nearly impossible to properly plan and invest in the right infrastructure for these companies. This is the case because depending on the choice an industrial site makes, a different infrastructure is needed and many choices are mutually exclusive. So, the decision of an enhanced high voltage infrastructure is diametrically opposed to the decision to go for CCS.