Assessment of Energy Efficiency Improvement in the United States Petroleum Refining Industry

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Adoption of efficient process technologies is an important approach to reducing CO2 emissions, in particular those associated with combustion. In many cases, implementing energy efficiency measures is among the most cost-effective approaches that any refiner can take, improving productivity while reducing emissions. Therefore, careful analysis of the options and costs associated with efficiency measures is required to establish sound carbon policies addressing global climate change, and is the primary focus of LBNL's current petroleum refining sector analysis for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The analysis is aimed at identifying energy efficiency-related measures and developing energy abatement supply curves and CO2 emissions reduction potential for the U.S. refining industry. A refinery model has been developed for this purpose that is a notional aggregation of the U.S. petroleum refining sector. It consists of twelve processing units and accounts for the additional energy requirements from steam generation, hydrogen production and water utilities required by each of the twelve processing units. The model is carbon and energy balanced such that crude oil inputs and major refinery sector outputs (fuels) are benchmarked to 2010 data. Estimates of the current penetration for the identified energy efficiency measures benchmark the energy requirements to those reported in U.S. DOE 2010 data. The remaining energy efficiency potential for each of the measures is estimated and compared to U.S. DOE fuel prices resulting in estimates of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities for each of the twelve major processes. A combined cost of conserved energy supply curve is also presented along with the CO2 emissions abatement opportunities that exist in the U.S. petroleum refinery sector. Roughly 1,200 PJ per year of primary fuels savings and close to 500 GWh per year of electricity savings are potentially cost-effective given U.S. DOE fuel price forecasts. This represents roughly 70 million metric tonnes of CO2 emission reductions assuming 2010 emissions factor for grid electricity. Energy efficiency measures resulting in an additional 400 PJ per year of primary fuels savings and close to 1,700 GWh per year of electricity savings, and an associated 24 million metric tonnes of CO2 emission reductions are not cost-effective given the same assumption with respect to fuel prices and electricity emissions factors. Compared to the modeled energy requirements for the U.S. petroleum refining sector, the cost effective potential represents a 40% reduction in fuel consumption and a 2% reduction in electricity consumption. The non-cost-effective potential represents an additional 13% reduction in fuel consumption and an additional 7% reduction in electricity consumption. The relative energy reduction potentials are much higher for fuel consumption than electricity consumption largely in part because fuel is the primary energy consumption type in the refineries. Moreover, many cost effective fuel savings measures would increase electricity consumption.

The model also has the potential to be used to examine the costs and benefits of the other CO2 mitigation options, such as combined heat and power (CHP), carbon capture, and the potential introduction of biomass feedstocks. However, these options are not addressed in this report as this report is focused on developing the modeling methodology and assessing fuels savings measures. These opportunities to further reduce refinery sector CO2 emissions and are recommended for further research and analysis.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory