Assessing carbon capture progress during climate week

Assessing carbon capture progress during climate week
22 September 2023

This week world leaders met for Climate Week in New York, USA. Carbon capture and the cement sector was a major theme as companies step up their game in developing breakthrough technologies to decarbonise. Evidence suggests that the cement sector and tech company partners are driving innovation at a fast pace to reach net zero to prevent the worse effects of climate change. However, hurdles to cheap and efficient capture and storage of CO2 remain.

The Climate Week cement industry event included keynote speeches from US Deputy Secretary of Energy, David Turk, and Canadian Ambassador for Change, Catherine Stewart. Panel sessions included the themes of "Carbon capture: A breakthrough moment?" and "Getting to carbon neutrality by going with the alternatives". The aim was to discuss where the concrete and cement industry stand with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and what hurdles remain to be cleared and how alternative fuels, alternative raw materials and overall energy efficiency will drive down carbon emissions. 

In addition, the ConcreteZero initiative gathered at Climate Week to demystify the complexities within concrete supply chain and to examine best practices for net-zero concrete implementation. 

Breakthrough technologies are surfacing – but hurdles remain
ICR routinely covers the evolution of carbon capture technologies for the cement sector, with new projects announced every week. This week, for instance, the Norwegian-based Capsol Technologies A/S announced that it has won two European cement plant contracts to capture more than 1.5Mta of CO2 from the 3Q23. The company's CaspolEoP® end-of-pipe carbon capture technology has been able to reduce energy demand to <1.0GJ/t captured CO2.

However, big challenges remain, and as CEMBUREAU has stated in its recent energy needs study, Europe's deployment of carbon capture technologies will increase energy use by between 68-119 per cent by 2050. 

In a recent study of the Germany cement sector's decarbonisation strategy, Carboneer stresses that renewable energy will be needed in addition to carbon capture to reduce process-related emissions, which Carboneer claims account for approximately 25 per cent of industrial emissions from using carbon-containing fuels and materials in production. 

An additional concern is that not all CO2 is recoverable as many capture technologies can not yet achieve a 100 per cent capture rate. Moreover, for decentralised cement plants the most efficient means of handling and transportion of the captured CO2 has yet to be identified. The limited availability of CO2 storage in countries such as Germany also makes pure CCS implementation relatively expensive, reports Carboneer.

The role that carbon capture will play for cement sector decarbonisation is vital. “We don’t get to zero without it,” says the Cement Association of Canada in its net-zero action plan. So while tremendous effort and innovation is being put into carbon capture, and with the first plants just a year or two away from starting to capture CO2 at full industrial scale, further progress is required to increase access to long-term funding for CCSU investment, increasing renewable energy availability and cost reduction of CCSU itself. Only when these hurdles are overcome does net zero become achievable.

Published under Cement News