Climate Protection with Carbon Management

Until 2030, we want to grow our production without adding further CO2 emissions.1 Our carbon management bundles our global activities to meet this climate protection target and further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions over the long term. We have adopted a three-pronged approach: We aim to increase production and process efficiency, purchase electricity from renewable sources, and develop completely new low-emission technologies and processes. We want to use these to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions from 2030 onward.

Climate protection is firmly embedded in our corporate purpose, “We create chemistry for a sustainable future,” and is a cornerstone of our strategy. We are committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. Our innovative climate protection products such as insulation materials for buildings or battery materials for electromobility play a role here. We are also continually working to reduce our own carbon emissions. We have already almost halved our carbon emissions since 1990 through improvements to processes and methods – while simultaneously doubling sales product volumes.

1 The goal includes other greenhouse gases according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which are converted into CO2 equivalents.

Further improving process and energy efficiency

We aim to make our plants and processes even more efficient and resource-saving. When investing in our sites, we draw on our expertise and innovative technologies to optimize the use of raw materials and in this way, reduce CO2 emissions. For example, our gas and steam turbine power plant at the Schwarzheide site in Germany is currently undergoing a €73 million modernization. Once it is started up in 2022, it will produce 10% more electricity and the CO2 emissions factor of the power generated will be around 10% lower thanks to higher fuel efficiency.

CO2 avoided by the Verbund and combined heat and power generation in 2020

6.2 million metric tons

BASF’s Verbund concept also plays a key role in increasing efficiency. It helps us to realize synergies across all segments and to efficiently steer value chains. Intelligently linking production and energy demand enables us to use fewer resources and reduce our emissions. Together, combined power and steam generation and our continuously enhanced Energy Verbund avoided a total of 6.2 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2020. That is why we will continue to invest in the creation and optimization of Verbund structures and drive forward the consolidation of production at highly efficient sites.

Increasing use of renewable energy

Our carbon management aims to increase the share of renewables in our energy supply. Nineteen sites in Europe and North America already source partially or fully emission-free electricity from suppliers.

Number of sites partially or fully powered by emission-free electricity in 2020


Wherever possible, we incorporate renewable energies when constructing plants and modernizing or establishing new sites. For example, we only used hydropower for the construction of our new battery materials plant in Harjavalta, Finland, in 2020 (planned startup: 2022). We plan to mainly use locally generated renewable electricity in the operational phase as well. This will enable us to offer cathode active materials with a lower carbon footprint. In 2020, we also started up photovoltaic plants with a nameplate capacity of around 1,300 kWp (kilowatt peak), for example at the Caojing and Pudong sites in China.

Developing climate-smart technologies

Most of our production processes and methods are already highly optimized, making further improvements to existing plants an increasingly difficult task. As a result, completely new technologies are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long term and on a large scale. BASF researchers are working at full speed on this in our Carbon Management R&D Program, which focuses on the production of basic chemicals. These are the basis for many value chains and account for around 70% of the chemical industry’s greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

Potential CO2 avoided by electrical heating concepts for steam crackers 

up to 90%

As part of this R&D program, we are developing an innovative, climate-friendly production process for hydrogen (methane pyrolysis) together with partners from academia and industry in a project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, to name one example. Hydrogen is used as a reactant in many chemical processes, such as ammonia synthesis. However, the processes currently used to produce hydrogen from methane, such as steam reforming, are extremely CO2 emission-intensive. In methane pyrolysis, by contrast, methane is split directly into hydrogen and carbon. The resulting solid carbon could be used in the future to produce aluminum, for example. Methane pyrolysis requires around 80% less electricity than the alternative method of producing hydrogen using water electrolysis. If this energy comes from renewable sources, the process could be made carbon-free. Following extensive groundwork, including research into the reaction kinetics of the pyrolysis process and technical feasibility studies, we started up a test facility for methane pyrolysis at the Ludwigshafen site in Germany in 2020. It will provide insights into the heating concept, as well as the use of new types of high-temperature materials.

Another focus area of the R&D program is alternative heating concepts for our steam crackers. These large-scale industrial plants are used in the chemical industry to split petroleum into olefins and aromatics. To do this, it needs to reach temperatures of 850°C and higher. The cracker’s furnaces are usually operated with natural gas. An interdisciplinary team is working on developing a fundamentally new furnace concept based on an electrical resistance heater (e-furnace). If powered by renewable energy, this could avoid up to 90% of CO2 emissions.

Another example from our Carbon Management R&D Program, which has been marketed since mid-2019 in cooperation with Linde, is a process known as dry reforming to produce syngas from methane and CO2. Thanks to BASF’s newly developed SYNSPIRE™ catalyst in combination with an innovative process technology from Linde, less water vapor is required in syngas production and CO2 is used in the process as a raw material. In this way, the DRYREF™ technology improves plants’ energy and carbon footprint.

The framework for the transformation

The transition toward a climate-friendly society remains a fundamental challenge of the 21st century. There are many ways in which the chemical industry can be part of the solution. The political and regulatory environment is also crucial to the development and industrial application of completely new production processes. Demand for green electricity will increase sharply with innovative, more climate-friendly technologies. At the Ludwigshafen site in Germany alone, we would need to roughly triple or quadruple our current electricity use (2020: 6.0 TWh) to fully implement new, low-carbon electricity-based production processes. As well as its availability, the price of green power is also a critical success factor. High prices are already hindering the more widespread adoption of green power today and impact the economic feasibility of future, new production processes. Sectors like the chemical industry, which compete in an international market, cannot pass on the additional costs caused by low-carbon technologies to their customers until a comparable carbon pricing mechanism exists globally – or at least at G20 level. Until then, governments must implement measures to ensure the competitiveness of climate-friendly processes.

Methane pyrolysis

1. Methane flows into the reactor.

2. Methane is heated to over 1,000°C using electricity from renewable sources (such as solar and wind power).

3. The methane is split in the hot center of the reactor. Gaseous hydrogen and solid carbon are formed.

4. The hydrogen rises to the top and can be extracted.

5. The carbon produced is a solid granulate.