Decarbonisation options for the Dutch salt industry

22-10-2019 | Rapport

This report on decarbonisation options for the Dutch salt industry is part of the MIDDEN project (Manufacturing Industry Decarbonisation Data Exchange Network) initiated by PBL and ECN part of TNO. The project aims to support industry, policymakers, analysts and the energy sector in their common efforts to achieve deep decarbonisation.

Salt production in the Netherlands

The Dutch salt industry consists of four production plants in Delfzijl, Hengelo, Harlingen (natriumchloride salt) and Veendam (magnesium salt). Salt products can be divided in 4 sub-categories:

  1. Industrial salt (e.g.: Electrolysis salt, pharmaceutical salt, food salt, feed salt)
  2. Specialties salt (e.g.: Table salt, nitrite pickling salt, water-softening salt)
  3. Off-spec salt (e.g.: De-icing salt, road salt, dishwasher salt)
  4. Other salts (e.g.: Magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide).

Most of the produced industrial salt is used in the chlor-alkali industry to produce chlorine, soda and hydrogen.

Decarbonisation options

In the salt manufacturing industry, the key opportunity for decarbonisation up to 2030 lies in the electrification of its heat processes by using mechanic vapour recompression technology for brine vaporisation and electric boilers to generate steam.

Further decarbonisation options for 2050 include:

  • Continue and increase steam generation by using steam of the waste incineration Twence and the pyrolysis plant Empyro in Hengelo and the waste incineration REC by Frisia in Harlingen
  • Steam generation by means of geothermal heat generation in Harlingen and Delfzijl
  • Steam generation by means of hydrogen, including storage using empty salt caverns

In addition, there are some options (depending on the suitability of the empty salt caverns for high pressure options) that can facilitate the energy transition:

  • Carbon Capture and Utilisation or Storage using empty salt caverns (CCUS)
  • Compressed Air Energy/storage using empty salt caverns.
  • Hydrogen storage using empty salt caverns.