To achieve significant CO2 reductions, technological innovation is crucial. In this exploratory study, commissioned by CAN Europe, CE Delft identifies whether innovations under development in the European steel, cement and paper sectors can be expected to yield 80-95% CO2 emission reductions in 2050, which is the EU long-term climate goal. Attention is paid to measures relating to energy use, alterations to production processes and use of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Based on the available information, several promising technologies with respect to CO2 efficiency have been identified in these sectors. They seem to have the potential to produce significantly lower CO2 emissions per unit of product compared to the current average production plant in Europe.
Most of these technologies are currently in pilot stages of technological development and are expected to become commercially available between 2020 and 2030. In the future, there may be other promising technologies that are not currently under serious development, such as electrolysis in the steel sector and innovative drying techniques in the paper industry. For successful implementation of the identified technologies, it is necessary for policy-makers to:
- Stimulate further technical development, for instance by providing additional R&D funds.
- Create market conditions with a preference for low CO2 emission technologies, by appropriate design of the EU ETS, among other ways.
Finally, most technologies rely heavily on CCS, which raises a priority issue. Since there seem to be limited storage locations meeting safety requirements, the question is whether these should be reserved for use by industry rather than the energy sector (coal), where alternative CO2 abatement options appear to be available.