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Carbon Capture Is Emerging in the Cement Industry: Part 2

Peter Marrin
Jun 21, 2022

Guidehouse Insights

Buildings and sidewalks across the world contain big carbon footprints that are difficult to diminish. According to the International Energy Agency, the cement sector is the third-largest industrial energy consumer and the second-largest industrial CO2 emitter globally. Around 7%-8% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be traced to cement production. 

In the first part of this three-blog series, we explored the background of the cement industry, why the decarbonization of this sector matters, and where in the process CO2 is generated. This second part of the series looks closer at various active cement decarbonization projects around the world. Part 3 of this blog series explores ways of using captured CO2 to create cement and other building materials. 

Capture Projects in the Queue Would Be the World’s First for Cement

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects can play an important role in not just decarbonizing the cement industry but also helping to facilitate the adoption of CCS in other sectors by forming hubs. Several industrial-scale projects under development across the world demonstrate the promise of using CCS while making cement—a key component of concrete.

In Norway, HeidelbergCement plans to make its Norcem cement plant in Brevik the world's first major CCS project attached to a cement plant, capturing 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The project, which would cut 50% of the plant's CO2 emissions, aims to be online by 2024. As part of Norway's government-backed Longship project, the captured CO2 from Norcem will be moved offshore and sequestered beneath the North Sea. HeidelbergCement has pledged to reduce its specific net CO2 emissions per tonne of cementitious material by 30% by 2025 (compared with 1990), and aims to offer carbon-neutral concrete by 2050 at the latest.

In Canada, Lehigh Cement and Enbridge are collaborating on a carbon solution for Lehigh's cement manufacturing facility in Edmonton, Alberta. The project would be North America's first full-scale CCS project in the cement industry, with the goal of being online by 2025 and capturing approximately 780,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Enbridge would transport the captured CO2 via pipeline and permanently sequester it at a site just west of Edmonton.

Decarbonizing Cement While Forming Hubs

Both the Norcem and Edmonton projects are important because they not only would be two of the first projects to decarbonize large cement-manufacturing facilities but also demonstrate the power of partnerships. In addition to emissions from the Norcem cement facility, Norway's Longship project would aggregate emissions from Fortum Oslo Varme's waste-to-energy plant near Oslo. State-run Equinor would move the CO2 to an onshore receiving terminal on the northwest coast, where it will then be piped to two offshore sequestration sites in the North Sea as part of the Northern Lights project—a consortium led by Equinor, Shell, and Total that aims to have 1.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of initial CO2 storage capacity by 2024 with the ability to scale to 5 Mtpa if it sees demand. 

The Lehigh Cement CCS project is also part of a bigger partnership. With additional support from Capital Power Corporation, Enbridge is developing a 4 Mtpa open access carbon hub in the Wabamun area, west of Edmonton, as part of Alberta's Request for Full Project Proposals process. When completed as early as 2025, the Open Access Wabamun Carbon Hub will be among the largest integrated CCS projects in the world. All in all, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative has identified 279 potential CCS hubs in 56 countries. Guidehouse Insights' Global CCUS Project Tracker, scheduled to be published in early 2023, is tracking around 15 Mtpa's worth of cement CCUS projects across various stages around the world.