Explained: how industry depends on carbon capture technology to meet climate goals

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Aug 29 (Reuters) – Norwegian carbon dioxide (CO2) storage company Northern Lights and its owners have agreed to store emissions captured by the Dutch operation of fertilizer maker Yara (YAR.OL) from 2025 in what they say will be a business breakthrough for the company.

The joint venture founded by oil companies Equinor (EQNR.OL), TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) and Shell (SHEL.L) plans to inject CO2 from industrial plants into rock formations under the seabed of the North Sea. Read more

Industries from cement to mining are developing plans to limit and reduce their global warming emissions, and many rely on carbon capture.

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There are two main types of carbon capture and storage: point source carbon capture and storage (CCS) sequesters CO2 produced at the source, such as a chimney, while direct air capture (DAC ) removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

The captured CO2 is usually stored permanently underground, although carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) reuses the CO2.

Several groups see a need for billions of tons of storage by the middle of the century; Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) expects a $2 trillion market by 2040.

Here’s how four other major industries, all major carbon emitters, are using CCS technology.

CEMENT AND CONCRETE

Cement and concrete production accounts for approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions.

The Global Cement and Concrete Association recently announced a roadmap for net zero cement by 2050 and pledged 10 industrial-scale carbon capture plants by 2030.

Carbon capture technology is “the elephant in the room,” said Fernando Gonzalez, general manager of Cemex in Mexico, during a company presentation this month, referring to the challenges of developing technology.

IRON AND STEEL

The process of making iron and steel is energy and carbon intensive due to the use of fossil fuels like coal to power blast furnaces, and production has increased in recent years.

To meet emissions targets, 75% of the CO2 produced globally by the sector must be captured, according to the World Steel Association. This equates to 14 steel mills with CCS technology being built every year from 2030 to 2070. Currently, the world has only one large-scale steel facility with CCS.

ArcelorMittal (MT.LU), one of the world’s largest steelmakers, signed a memorandum of understanding last year with Air Liquide, a French industrial gases company, to develop carbon capture technologies to produce low-carbon steel at its plant in Dunkirk Place.

OIL AND GAS

Until recently, capturing the carbon produced by fossil fuels and injecting it underground was largely a way to extract more oil from aging wells. There are several proposals to build CCS hubs, but few have made it past the development stage.

Today, many major energy companies are incorporating CCS into their emissions reduction plans, but the lack of carbon markets or tax incentives to make the investment profitable has held back development in the United States.

Occidental Petroleum (OXY.N) is developing with private equity firm Rusheen Capital Management a direct air capture facility in Texas that would pull about 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year from the air.

MINING

Parts of the mining industry see carbon capture and storage as a way to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants, the main source of electricity in Australia’s mining hub.

Some mining companies are also exploring ways to replace natural gas in operations with hydrogen, which produces no carbon emissions when burned.

Rio Tinto Ltd (RIO.L), one of the world’s largest mining companies, announced in October that it would invest $4 million in private company Carbon Capture Inc, which is developing technology to suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and chemically bind it – and thus permanently store it – to rocks.

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Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Matt Scuffham and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Garrison Cassandra

Thomson Reuters

Mexico-based journalist focusing on climate change and business with a focus on telecommunications. Previously based in Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires, he covered Argentina’s debt crisis, the US-China power struggle in Latin America and the coronavirus pandemic.

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