EAGER1—An ambitious project to reduce carbon emissions

1 Evonik Assessment for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction.


Evonik aims to cut its CO2 emissions (scope 1 and 2) by a quarter by 2030. In 2022, the EAGER project team identified more than 400 measures that could be realized at over 20 sites to help achieve this goal. We talked to two key members of the project team, Dr. Julia Frey and Mikko Meyder, about the challenges and the distinctive features of this project.

Two key members of the EAGER team: Mikko Meyder and Dr. Julia Frey.
“Implementation involves optimizing or developing the right technologies with our partners.“ Mikko Meyder
“Next Generation Technologies play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint of our production sites. That makes them an important element in the transformation of Evonik.“ Dr. Julia Frey
Dr. Julia Frey und Mikko Meyder in dialogue

Hello Julia, hello Mikko. You’ve completed the analysis phase of your EAGER project. Now you’re moving on to the implementation phase. The analysis was really challenging because it was so complex: 20 sites around the world with more than 120 plants operated by 15 different organizational units. Plus selected sites in the Active Oxygens and Silica business units.

What have you achieved for Evonik and what still needs to be done? Mikko, can you tell us what EAGER is about?
Mikko: EAGER is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions—to be precise, carbon dioxide emissions from production sites. Together with greater use of green electricity and other activities, that should help us achieve our new group-wide climate target. Evonik aims to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by a quarter, from 6.3 million metric tons CO2 to about 4.7 million metric tons between 2021 and 2030. About 1 million metric tons of that should come from measures at our production facilities.

Was EAGER an apt name for this project?
Julia: Definitely, it’s a very good description of the attitude of everyone who was involved. I was impressed by the tremendous motivation. People really have taken sustainability on board. From the beginning of 2022, there were about 50 Evonik employees from a wide range of departments and disciplines working on the project worldwide. They looked at how we can achieve the necessary CO2 reductions at our sites and in our production processes.

Is it correct that EAGER was a five-step project?
Julia: Yes. First, we identified which energy sources at each site had the biggest impact on CO2 emissions. Then we identified the processes and areas in the plants that use these energy sources. We organized workshops with local staff to develop ideas with them on how to save energy. After all, they are the experts: They know their processes best, and they know where there is leverage. In the next step, we screened the ideas for technical and technological feasibility. Finally, all the ideas were entered in the CO2 cost abatement curve for the plant.

The EAGER project

  • Identification of measures to reduce CO2 by 1 million metric tons CO2eq
  • Contribution to Evonik’s new climate target (scope 1 and 2 emissions), which is aligned to the target of “well below 2 °C” defined by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
  • Project period: first half of 2022
  • Involved 20 sites worldwide with 120 plants
  • The highly motivated 50-member team identified 400 measures
  • 2022 – 2030: €700 million earmarked for next Generation Technologies (improvements to production processes/infrastructure to reduce CO2 emissions)
  • Tracking and oversight of the measures by the EAGER steering committee

Mikko, no doubt that varies enormously from one site to another?
Mikko: That’s right. When we consolidated the various abatement curves, it became clear that we could not move forward at the same pace in all sites and business lines. Some sites can use “off-the-peg” solutions to optimize their production processes, but for other processes, we first need to develop the technology—possibly with external partners.

Julia, you mentioned the CO2 cost abatement curve just now. Could you explain what it is and how Evonik uses it to make investment decisions?
Julia: Yes, from the workshops we know which plants have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and by how much. We also know what measures are needed to do that. However, they also have to make sense economically. That is the basic precondition. Therefore, we looked at the one-time expenditures for the various measures and how each individual measure would impact regular costs. On that basis, we calculated the cost of every metric ton of CO2 avoided. That can be used to derive the cost-efficiency of the proposed measures.

“Off-the-peg” measures need to be implemented as quickly as possible. In other cases, we need to optimize or develop the right processes or technologies together with partners. A lot is being done, but some things will take time.

Mikko, do you think Evonik is on the home straight?
Mikko: We’re not that far yet, but we’re making good progress. Implementation of the first results of the project has already started in Antwerp and Herne. At our site in Belgium, the topics we are specifically addressing are central heat pumps and green electricity from wind power. In Wesseling, we are planning to replace the gas driers used by the Silica business line with new electric driers powered by green electricity. Each drier will reduce our CO2 emissions by several thousand metric tons a year. Now it’s important not to slacken our efforts for a single moment.

Julia, Mikko, we’re coming to the end of our interview. Thank you both for your time here at Evonik’s Total Productive Management Academy in Marl.

One last question: what are the next steps for EAGER?
Julia: The follow-on project to drive forward the implementation phase has already started. We’re orchestrating the measures identified in EAGER, driving forward the development of Next Generation Technologies, and naturally collecting further ideas on CO2 abatement. We should not forget that 2030 is only an intermediate goal as we head for climate neutrality at Evonik by 2050.

The podcast

Dr. Julia Frey, Dr. Matthias Blug and Thilo Krapfl talk about EAGER and what sustainability means for the Animal Nutrition and Oil Additives Business Lines.

The podcast team (from left): Dr. Matthias Blug (Product Manager Agrochemicals | Animal Nutrition), Thilo Krapfl (Vice President Industrial | Oil Additives), Dr. Julia Frey (Head of Sustainability & Efficiency | Process Technology & Engineering).

Part 1

Part 2

The videos

Julia Frey
Why EAGER is an important building block in achieving Evonik‘s goal of „zero greenhouse gas emissions“ by 2050.
Elena Kunze
The methodology behind EAGER and the search for new technologies on the road to climate neutrality.
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