Michael Carus: How has the environment for the Renewable Carbon Economy evolved during the Corona pandemic, climate change and GreenDeal, and the Ukraine war? (in terms of demand and investment)
Zhang Wei: Facing these opportunities and challenges, China is promoting green low carbon economy development through technical innovation, systematic innovation, industrial transformation, new energy and new materials development and other methods. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have been trying reducing the consumption of coal, petroleum and other fossil energy as much as possible, and eventually we will achieve a win-win development form of both economic development and ecological environment protection. Specific to our industry, we have seen the replacement of traditional petroleum-based products by new bio-based materials in some high-value fine chemical applications, and we believe that the replacement of new bio-based materials for lower-cost bulk chemicals such as polyester will happen soon. In the next three years, China’s production capacity and demand for bio-based materials will reach 10 million tons, and the investment will exceed hundreds of billions RMB.
Michael Carus: Are there market preferences for any of the three sources of renewable carbon? Biomass first and second generation, biogenic waste, utilisation of CO2 from biogenic and fossil sources and direct air capture or mechanical and chemical recycling?
Zhang Wei: The market expects renewable carbon sources to come from agricultural residues and non-food biomass raw materials. The high-value utilization of such biomass is the main trend of future development, but the current problem is still high conversion cost. With technological breakthroughs, various bio-based raw materials are firstly converted into high-value platform compounds such as 5-HMF, FDCA and lactic acid through biological refining, and then commodity and fine chemicals are produced through chemical and biological methods to meet market demand.
Michael Carus: What would be the most important measures and policy instruments to accelerate the transformation from fossil to renewable carbon?
Zhang Wei: The key measures to accelerate the transformation from fossil carbon to renewable carbon are to reduce the cost of biomass raw materials, to increase the production capacity of bio-based products, to expand the application field of bio-based products, to change the consumers’ consumption concept, and to strengthen the exchange and cooperation among global bio-based products enterprises. Important policies are to build up the subsidy mechanism for bio-based products to enter the market, to clarify the minimum proportion of bio-carbon in consumer products, and to encourage and support enterprises to replace fossil-based products, such as formaldehyde and benzene compounds.
Michael Carus: Thank you so much for the interview.
Meet him personally or his colleagues of the Zhejiang Sugar Energy Technology (China) at the Renewable Materials Conference 10 – 12 May 2022, Cologne, Germany (hybrid event). Discuss your questions at booth No. 11 and with his colleague Bernhard Urwyler during the panel discussion of the session “Renewable Chemicals and Building-Blocks” on day 2!
More information: https://renewable-materials.eu