Nitric acid is an important raw material in the chemical industry, especially for fertiliser production. The manufacture of nitric acid releases nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas that is 265 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2). Businesses have no incentive to reduce N2O emissions, as this would not result in any efficiency gains. Likewise, owing to the current low price of emission reduction certificates, the carbon market is not adequately incentivising investment in N2O reduction either. And yet, N2O abatement is relatively inexpensive, averaging EUR 1 to 2 per tonne of CO2-equivalent saved. By way of comparison: combined heat and power is EUR 13 and biogas feed-in EUR 55 per tonne of CO2-equivalent.
This sector’s global mitigation potential – estimated at 700 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2030 – is very significant. The sector can play a key role in achieving the climate targets laid out in the Paris Agreement.
Against this background, Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) launched the Nitric Acid Climate Action Group (NACAG). Its goal is greater climate protection worldwide in the nitric acid industry. By 2020, all nitric acid production plants worldwide are to be fitted with N2O abatement technology.
Partner countries are planning and implementing measures for the long-term abatement of N2O emissions caused by nitric acid production. The foundation has been laid for these countries to continue implementing measures independently after 2020.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports the German Federal Environment Ministry in the implementation of NACAG. The project is responsible for both the NACAG Secretariat and implementation of the NACAG Support Facility.
It supports plant operators by providing technical advisory services. It also advises partner country governments on the legal and institutional framework conditions for phasing out industrial N2O emissions. Together with industrial companies, project developers and technology providers, the project is working on investment measures for reducing nitric acid.
Furthermore, it provides financial support for the use of technology. To this end, the project is concluding financing agreements with plant operators to fund the full costs of emission reduction measures until 2020. Here, the project steers and supports the entire process of technology financing.
The main precondition for funding the technology is the partner country’s commitment to take full responsibility for the abatement of emissions from 2021 onwards. In this way, partner countries receive incentives to assume responsibility themselves for national climate change mitigation measures. The project hereby also plays a part in further motivating partner countries in the context of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).