CCUS funding may be at the expense of existing decarbonisation solutions

CCUS funding may be at the expense of existing decarbonisation solutions
24 March 2023

The debate is intensifying about funding for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and whether more investment needs to be spread across other measures to achieve decarbonisation goals in the near term. Time is short and government funds are limited, so the industry has to decide quickly how best to use available funds to decarbonise the cement sector.

In the last week, NEXE dd announced its EUR400m CO2NTESSA CCUS project using thyssenkrupp Polysius PureOxyfuel technology. The German equipment supplier will engineer and construct a 3000tpd modified clinker production line at the 1Mta Našice cement plant. The CO2NTESSA project will transport captured CO2, via a pipeline to the Bockovci-1 site, which is located in Slavonija, eastern Croatia, before 700,000t of CO2 will be injected into the saline aquifer deposit for permanent storage. PLINACRO will transport the captured CO2, while the Croatian Hydrocarbons Agency will manage the permanent CO2 storage. Nexe is seeking financing from the EU's Innovation Fund for the project, which enables co-financing of up to EUR200m. A decision on the allocation of funds is expected in August 2023.

"We designed the CO2NTESSA project with the aim of implementing CO2-neutral and cost-efficient cement production in the period from 2029 to ensure long-term business sustainability. This project, as a pilot project in Europe and the world, includes the application of technology that will completely eliminate CO2 emissions in production, which would figuratively mean half a million fewer vehicles on the roads," explained the President of the Board of Nexe Group, Ivan Ergović.

Ecocem viewpoint
Meanwhile, the UK government's GBP20bn (US$24.1bn/EUR22.8bn) commitment to CCUS technology investment and the EU's Net Zero Industry Act, which aims to see the EU's overall strategic net-zero technologies manufacturing capacity approach or reach at least 40 per cent of the Union's deployment needs by 2030, have been met with comments of 'missed opportunities' from Donal O'Riain, Ecocem's founding director.

The idea of the UK government concentrating its decarbonisation funding on CCUS and the EU's Net Zero Industry Act's failure to include alternative technologies to reduce CO2 emissions has concerned Mr O'Riain. While he said all investment in reducing global carbon emissions is welcome, he suggests governments should not focus exclusively on carbon capture at the expense of broader, less costly and more readily available innovation.

“While Carbon Capture technology will have a role to play to decarbonise cement when it is ready, new technologies already exist that can halve emissions from cement by 2030, at very little extra cost compared to traditional cement products," said Mr O'Riain.

“By focussing investment solely on carbon capture technology, the [UK] Government is slowing down critical industry innovation. It would do well to think shorter term and move to reduce emissions now – not in 10 years when CCS may finally be deployable,” he added.

Carbon Capture and Storage Association viewpoint
A different view is taken by the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) that welcomes the UK Government's investment in CCUS. "We are delighted to see that the Chancellor has today confirmed GBP20bn of funding for CCUS. This marks a turning point for this vital sector, delivering the much-needed certainty to investors that the UK is serious about delivering CCUS," said Ruth Herbert, CCSA chief executive. "We look forward to seeing which projects have been chosen to move to construction, the forward timeline for selecting the next CCUS clusters that need to be operational this decade, and a swift passage of the Energy Bill through Parliament, to finalise the regulatory framework for the industry."

Large investments for CCS and CCUS technology are being made, but these technologies will not decarbonise the cement sector alone. The Global Cement and Concrete Association's (GCCA) roadmap suggest carbon capture will only account for 36 per cent of the decarbonisation process in the cement sector. There are other areas of research that need to be addressed to bring other decarbonisation methods through to commercial operations. The GCCA's Innovandi 2 Open Innovation Challenge, for example, will look to find innovations for new materials and ingredients for low-carbon concrete. Net zero will only be reached with a mix of breakthrough technologies and decarbonisation levers that reduce clinker content in cement and that combine the benefits of alternative fuels, waste heat recovery, electrification, hydrogen fuel, concrete additives and renewable energy to reduce the CO2 intensity of cement manufacture.

Published under Cement News

Tagged Under: CCUS Western Europe Croatia