A group present in 45 countries, which wants to bring Italy back to being a leader, because with green chemistry, the circular economy and the energy transaction it can be re-industrialized. And also exporting the Made in Italy of sustainable ingenuity. From biofuels to bioplastics to the bet of circular hydrogen: Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Maire Tecnimont tells SustainEconomy.24, report by Il Sole 24 Ore Radiocor and Luiss Business School, the challenge of the group that launched, three years ago, a dedicated company, NextChem, and which aims to invest between 20 and 25 million a year in the development of technologies for the energy transition.
Your group has long ago chosen a sustainable approach. You have now further defined your strategy. Tell us about it?
“We took these macro-themes so seriously that three years ago we launched a dedicated company, NextChem, where we made a great effort also in terms of investment to migrate the best and everything that we had already developed as technologies three years ago. for the transition. The idea is to replicate – outside hydrocarbons – what we have always done for the hydrocarbon economy, and we are helping large customers in this world that starts from new technologies and new paradigms. NextChem is working on all existing plants and existing customers with the idea of decarbonising and, therefore, validating and implementing all the technologies that reduce the emissions of existing plants (refineries, steel mills and in general all petrochemical plants) working on all strands ranging from hydrogen to CO2 capture. The second objective is to promote the circular economy; being a historically very expert company in the plastic production sector, we have pushed ourselves towards the recycling of plastics which is the strongest engine of a new economy and, therefore, of the future. So plastic recycling, chemical recycling which means going further and reprocessing plastic chemically, and then we developed ideas to make recycled fuels and chemicals. The third major area of NextChem is biochemistry and we will hear more and more of biofuels and bioplastics. We have launched ourselves with all our strength, the talent of our people and a lot of managerial courage in supporting the system to change its skin. We do so having decades of expertise in the chemical engineering sector and a platform present in 45 countries ».
Q How do these projects and the strategy translate into investment terms?
«Prior to the launch of NextChem in 2018, we had already announced investments of 50 million with research and development initiatives to increase our portfolio of technologies; we then continued to invest and we have a plan that, between direct and indirect investments and investments in research and development, easily culls at least 20-25 million a year; an effort that must be carried out with the certainty that we are building the Maire Tecnimont of the future and we are, in some way, exercising our social responsibility towards employees, suppliers and customers and also Italy which has a formidable opportunity. We Italians are penalized by the hydrocarbon economy given that historically Italy is a country without conventional energy sources, where therefore the cost of energy has taken us out of the market, and consequently the country has gradually de-industrialized to these economic scenarios. If we are good, we can reindustrialize with green chemistry, the circular economy and the energy transition. As good chemists, and at the right moment, we can start producing many derivatives in Italy that today, instead, we import ».