Redburn Research House produced a report on the cement industry recently, “Cement – Carbon Conundrum”. The report suggests that the costs of producing cement will rise by 61% given the investment in CCS. This cost increase will lead to a significant increase in the price of cement. The report gave a sell signal for cement companies faced with this reduction in their profitability.
I have written about the issues with CCS in my book. After nearly twenty years of effort there are few industrial scale plants globally and none in the UK. The Climate Change Committee states, “Carbon capture (usage) and storage, which is crucial to the delivery of zero GHG emissions and strategically important to the UK economy, is yet to get started.”
There is an example of Cement with CCS in Europe. In Norway, the Norcem Brevik cement plant is starting using CCS. In the first stage, the CCS installation will capture just half of the plant’s CO2 emissions, in order to maintain investments and operating costs to a minimum. Only if this is successful will the next stage to 100% be attempted.
The project’s long-term viability is not guaranteed, however, and depends largely on public financing. A final feasibility study will be published in August 2019 that will inform a Norwegian government proposal to invest in building the full-scale facility. If the Parliament approves it, the project will enter a three-year construction phase.
If this occurs the world’s first cement plant with full-scale carbon capture may be in operation in 2024. But, the plant will need public investment to be economic.
This is a good example of the over optimism of Green deal advocates. Cement will be vital for zero carbon infrastructure and yet the cost impact of complying with zero carbon in the absence of CCS technology being scalable will be costly. A conundrum indeed.