CCS crucial to reduce industry GHG emissions

Publish date: October 18, 2010

Written by: Lorelei Limousin

The Dutch institute CE Delft has released a report unveiling the technologies able to reduce significantly the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the main manufacturing sectors in Europe. The report was commissioned by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe and points to an important role for CCS in these sectors.

The report responds to the need to reduce Europe’s GHG emissions by 80% to 95% by 2050 and focuses on three energy-intensive sectors with a great potential for reducing CO2 emissions: steel, cement and paper. The potential reduction explored in this report is largely dependent on CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) becoming commercially viable. Technology is available; therefore, governments must adopt further measures and incentives to spur investments in industrial applications of CCS.


The production of steel is among the most energy-intensive and, consequently, CO2 emitting sectors. It accounts for an estimated 5.2% of total global GHG emissions and 21% of total EU industrial CO2 emissions. About 80-90% of these emissions are related to the blast furnace converter process. Therefore, blast furnace top gas recycling (TGR) is a technology that recycles the energetic content of blast furnace gas and separates out CO2 originating from coke. TGR reduces coke consumption but increases the electricity consumption due to the CO2 separation process. The high CO2 concentration makes it well suitable for CCS, which will enable a 55% GHG emission reduction compared to the average blast furnace. Without CCS, the technology only reduces emissions by 5%.  

An even better technology to reduce carbon intensity of the steel industry is the combination of the Hisarma coke free steelmaking process with CCS. This process will be able to reduce GHG emissions from steel production by 80% if used with CCS, compared to only 20% without CCS. The technology will seemingly reach market maturity around 2025 but capital investments are now promising, according to the report. This technology was developed under the EU public/private partnership Ultra Low CO2 Steel (ULCOS).

”In this process there is no need for the production of coke from coal and iron ore sintering. Therefore the process is approximately 20% more energy efficient than the other technologies and produces less greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of hot metal compared to current average blast furnace technology,” says the report. The Hisarma coke free steelmaking process will be demonstrated in a 60,000 tonnes/annum pilot installation at CORUS IJmuiden (the Netherlands), which is planned to start operations in the beginning of 2011.


The cement sector accounts for 16% of total industrial CO2 emissions in the EU. This results from the clinker production which is the main source of CO2 emissions in the cement production process.  The most promising technology for reducing GHG emissions is therefore  the CO2– absorber Magnesium Oxide cement clinker which replaces the traditional Portland clinker. According to the producer company Novacem, the final product absorbs more CO2 than is emitted during the production process, thereby creating a net CO2 sink. This and other advanced cement technologies are expected to be commercially available around 2025.


As for the paper sector, advanced drying technologies would dramatically enhance the energy efficiency. Moreover, it would also be possible to go “carbon negative” in the paper and pulp sectors via the gazification process of black liquor, a biomass-based by-product, which can be turned into syngas and produce heat to make pulp. The CO2 emissions could then be captured and stored. Production of biofuel via black liquor has already been demonstrated in Sweden by the company Chemrec and market deployment is expected by 2015-2020.


The current EU Emissions trading system (EU ETS) will not guarantee reaching the EU’s 2050 GHG objectives. In this perspective, CAN Europe recommends:

  • to auction all EU ETS allowances and lower the EU ETS cap;
  • to dedicate a portion of the auctioning revenues to an innovation fund for the deployment of breakthrough technologies;
  • the introduction of CO2 Emissions Performance standards, notably for cement;
  • permitting only based on Best Available Technologies under the Industrial Emissions Directive.

The report supports CCS as a key tool towards the decarbonisation of manufacturing sectors in the EU but it is reluctant to CCS for the power sector because they fear that the CO2 storage space is limited.

“Yet all studies indicate great storage capacity in much of Europe,” says Eivind Hoff from Bellona. “We might deal with the power sector without CCS within parts of Europe but it is a crucial technology to develop in particular countries such as China, where 75% of electricity comes from coal, or even in European countries like Poland, where more than 90% of the electricity is produced from coal. CCS will help these countries to reduce their emissions more rapidly than if CCS were not available for power sector.”

”Moreover, even where there is no need for fossil fuel power, the combination of biomass combustion with CCS will enable us to produce carbon negative power. If we take climate change seriously, we have to plan for extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and store it underground. Biomass with CCS is a strong candidate to achieve that.”

Hoff concludes: “It is not either fossil fuels CCS or renewable, it’s both.”


Access the full report from this webpage.