Could carbon capture be the key to decarbonising heavy industry?

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Suzanne Ferguson
Carbon Capture Technical Lead / Principal Consultant

Heavy industries, such as cement, steel, and chemicals account for 30% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Given the industrial world is still largely fuelled by hydrocarbons, creating practical solutions for hard to abate sectors will be critical to achieving a low carbon future. It is often the case that companies operating within these industries are unclear on how to identify sustainable decarbonisation strategies. While it may be tempting to write these hard-to-abate industries off as not feasible to decarbonise, our carbon goals will not be met without them.

It’s with this reasoning that companies across the globe are being encouraged to deploy and integrate carbon capture technology into their operations. Despite being around for decades, the technology is widely misunderstood, proving detrimental to its potential. Understanding how to navigate this evolving technology, where hundreds of potential processes are developing, can often be overwhelming, resulting in some carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture utilisation (CCU) projects succumbing to pitfalls and bottlenecks.

In 2023, 395 CCS projects globally were in the pipeline for development. Today, only 43 of these are operational. With many carbon capture initiatives still in the front-end engineering and design (FEED) and pre-FEED phases, early engagement with experts in this field is essential if we are to bring assurances and pace to these projects.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to CCS.  Defining a decarbonisation strategy that is specific to clients and their assets will therefore be crucial in ensuring its success.

Decarbonising heavy industries like chemicals, cement and steel is imperative given the intensity of global demand and the emissions. We cannot achieve the world’s carbon reduction goals without tackling these sectors. CCS therefore presents our biggest practical hope. Reducing risks such as bottlenecks and delays associated with poor assessment and planning in the early phase developments could mean the difference between achieving net zero and not.

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