Heidelberg Cement has signed a memorandum of understanding with multinational energy giant Equinor, in a bid to scale up its efforts in the field of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Heidelberg’s Norwegian arm, Norcem, has been running a small trial CCS project at its cement plant in Brevik since 2011. Called “Northern Lights” and backed by the Norwegian government, the project is aiming to show that captured CO2 emissions from CCS arrays can be safely transported to oil and gas fields under the North Sea.
Under the memorandum, Heidelberg and Equinor will work together to bring the first stored CO2 to these locations in 2023. The document also details an intention to examine the possibility of installing CCS at other Heidelberg plants within the next five years.
In addition, both companies will work on optimising the CO2 transport chain and strive to implement CCS as a Europe-wide solution for CO2 disposal.
“At our Brevik cement plant, we have shown that we are able to capture CO2 at an industrial scale,” said Heidelberg’s chairman Bernd Scheifele.
“We plan to capture around 400 000 tonnes per year of CO2 at Brevik, which corresponds to around 50% of the plant’s total carbon emissions.”
Heidelberg Cement is notably striving to deliver carbon-neutral concrete by mid-century, in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory.
Shortly before the firm announced that ambition, the World Cement Association (WCA) published a roadmap urging all firms in the industry to align with the Paris Agreement’s less ambitious 2C trajectory.
But, where does CCS fit into this picture?
According to researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL), CCS is crucial to aligning the cement industry with global climate goals. A recent joint report from the two organisations found that existing technologies can bring sector-wide emissions down 80%, against a 1990 baseline – but that meeting net-zero would be dependent on CCS.