nova Session: The Future of Refineries & Big Chemical Production Sites

Nine experts present and discuss their scenarios for the future of the chemical industry, hybrid session at 31 March 2022, Wöllhaf Conference Center Airport Cologne/Bonn

Chemical Verbund sites and refineries are the backbone of the European industry, prosperity and comfort. But to match the urgency of action and tackle climate change seriously, a transformation of these large structures is indispensable. A sustainable development is only possible if chemistry decouples from fossil carbon sources. This transformation needs to happen quickly and on a large scale. If Europe’s chemical industry fails to transform, these structures could be lost and Europe will become totally dependent on China and the Gulf states. Politics plays a big role here, but is not fully aware of the big challenge and does not yet have comprehensive concepts for a chemical industry of the future.

What are the challenges in detail?

  • New feedstocks from biomass, biogenic waste, CO2 plus hydrogen, or even plastic waste via chemical recycling must be integrated.
  • The product portfolio has to change significantly. Much less gasoline and diesel fuels, but a strong focus on chemicals and derived materials.
  • Sustainable aviation fuel from biomass, CO2 and chemical recycling will probably be the first new large-volume application.
  • Naphtha and crackers: What will become of this pathway, is it to be redesigned and/or will other processes and intermediates become the starting point? Ethanol and methanol, lignin?
  • What role will electrochemistry play?

What are the solutions for a future-proof chemical industry in Europe? These questions will be discussed with leading experts from the industry and market and strategy research:

  • Michael Carus, nova-Institute (DE): Challenges for European Refineries and Big Chemical Sides for Transition to Renewable Carbon
  • Gillian Tweddle, nova-Institute (DE): Refineries – who needs them?
  • Hans Rovers, New Normal (NL): Collaboration needed to achieve 55% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050
  • Peter Orth, OPC (DE): Circular Feedstock for the Chemical and Plastics Industry – Needs and Expectations
  • Lars Börger, NESTE (FI): Renewable Carbon and future refinery concepts
  • Jörg Dehmel, Shell (DE): Energy Transformation – Shifting Towards Sustainable Chemicals and Energy Products in Shell’s Rheinland Site
  • Sylvain Verdier, Haldor Topsoe (DK): Technology innovation for the petrochemical industry transition: Topsoe story from green methanol to chemical recycling
  • Okko Ringena, UPM (DE/FI): Make it happen: Implementing a first-of-its-kind industrial scale biorefinery
  • Ludo Diels, VITO (BE): Lignin to aromatics and the role in a recycling economy

All speakers have confirmed to be on-site at the Wöllhaf Conference Center in the Airport Cologne/Bonn, Room 7, 31 March 2022, 10:00 – 17:00

Registration fee

  • On-site: 495 € (plus VAT)
  • Online: 395 € (plus VAT)

A maximum of 30 participants can be present on site. Please register quickly. From the 20th registration onwards, we will open a waiting list from which we will select the other 10 participants (e.g. only one person per company). Online, the number of participants is unlimited.


nova-Institute, press release, 2022-02-28.


Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO)
Haldor Topsoe A/S
Neste Corporation
nova-Institut GmbH
Shell Group
UPM Corporation