Crude oil and natural gas are not only fuel, but also very valuable input materials in chemical processes, e.g. in manufacturing fertilizer and plastics. This material does not lose its value, no matter how heavily fossil fuels will be taxed.
I’m actually sat watching the feeds from an APOX reactor at this very moment (well kinda, I have a sore head from last night to I am avoiding work as much as possible) – The APOX burns methane in a low oxygen environment producing vast amounts of CO, which we then pipe over to our Acid side where it is used to pressurise its reactor in to produce Acetic Acid, and Acetic Anhydride.
Both of those products we sell, as they are used in everything from plastics, soap powders to Herion. But that we also pipe a significant quantity over to another onsite plant which uses Acetic to then produce ETaC (Ethyl Acetate), which is used in glue, nail polish, paints….and it also provides feed stock for its sister plant to produce VAM (Vinyl acetate Monomer) which is used in the production of everything from PVA to long complex polymer plastics.
I could quite easily go on for pages with the amount of organic chemistry we derive from just methane as a feed stock and how I can pretty much guarantee that you are either looking at, or even wearing something which ultimately came from fossil fuels. And this is without even going into how critical they are in the production of fertilizers to allow us to feed our self’s or the by products of oil and gas exploration such as Helium.
The point I am trying to make is yes I agree and support a net zero future, as burning such fuels to get from A to B or to cook a steak seems like a complete waste to me. But make no mistake fossil fuels are going nowhere anytime soon as they are critical to modern life and infrastructure.
Another point regarding electricity generation, we have a 500MW CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) station on site which feeds directly into the national grid and supports our plants. At the moment its on “tick over” due to the high price of natural gas, but, and here is the critical point, at a moment’s notice the operators can open the taps and have it at 100% generation within seconds. This ability to ramp up almost immediately to meet demand is critical to operating a stable power grid and with the exception of some hydro plants there isn’t really a viable alternative at this time.
And no, I don’t think Tesla’s “mega packs” are an alternative. In fact although I have not done the maths I would be willing to bet that their production releases more carbon and does more environmental damage than keeping a CCGT on tick over with the occasion ramp up to meet demand.