Our olefin industry has responded over the last 30 years to increasing cost both of fuels and feedstocks. Specific energy consumption (SEC) in today's new units is less than 50% of earlier units. The capacities of many older units have been expanded and, in conjunction, their efficiencies have been improved.
But in N. America, due to relative low cost natural gas feedstocks and fuels until ~2005, energy efficiency revamps have been minimal. In contrast, W. Europe and Japan with plants of equivalent age have responded more extensively to efficiency upgrades. Today their enhanced efficiencies are being further directed by semi-global CO2 emission reduction requirements.
So we in N. America are also recognizing these financial and legal directives to improve our efficiencies and emission reductions (CO2, NOx, et al). We could follow similar results which have been implemented by our global competitors. Related revamp incentives include alternative lower cost feedstocks and capacity expansions; but our key current challenge is to improve both our energy demand and associated emissions. Related improvements will be cited.