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Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 837; doi:10.3390/su9050837

Measuring the Vulnerability of an Energy Intensive Sector to the EU ETS under a Life Cycle Approach: The Case of the Chlor-Alkali Industry

Departamento de Ingenierías Química y Biomolecular, Universidad de Cantabria, Avda. de los Castros, s/n., 39005 Santander, Cantabria, Spain
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Academic Editors: Masaharu Motoshita, Matthias Finkbeiner, Yasuhiro Fukushima, Shabbir H. Gheewala, Jun Nakatani and Sonia Valdivia
Received: 14 March 2017 / Revised: 20 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 May 2017 / Published: 17 May 2017
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Abstract

The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which is a cornerstone of the EU’s policy to combat climate change, has been criticised by its effects on the competitiveness of intensive energy demanding industries, and in particular, of the chlor-alkali sector. The main chlorine application in Europe is the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from ethylene dichloride (EDC) as intermediate. Since chlorine is mainly traded in terms of derivatives, the aim of this work is to assess the vulnerability of the European chlor-alkali industry to chlorine replacement by imported EDC. An Energetic, Economic and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (EEESA) methodology is proposed based on the main variables affecting EDC production. Moreover, the influence of the EU ETS compensation measures and the emission allowance price in the current (mercury, diaphragm and membrane) and emergent (oxygen-depolarized cathodes (ODC)) technologies is studied. The most vulnerable scenarios become mercury and diaphragm technologies due to energy consumption. However, the salt price dependency on the quality requirements substantially influences the EEESA results. This analysis also shows the importance of hydrogen valorisation, whose major impact is observed in ODC scenario. View Full-Text
Keywords: energetic, economic and environmental sustainability assessment; chlor-alkaly industry; composite index; membrane technology; oxygen depolarised cathode technology; hydrogen energetic, economic and environmental sustainability assessment; chlor-alkaly industry; composite index; membrane technology; oxygen depolarised cathode technology; hydrogen
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MDPI and ACS Style

Garcia-Herrero, I.; Margallo, M.; Laso, J.; Onandía, R.; Irabien, A.; Aldaco, R. Measuring the Vulnerability of an Energy Intensive Sector to the EU ETS under a Life Cycle Approach: The Case of the Chlor-Alkali Industry. Sustainability 2017, 9, 837.

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