Cost-effective alternatives to CCS. An analysis of the possible role of CCS in four industrial sectors

The industrial sectors steel, cement, chemicals and refineries face the challenge of substantially reducing their CO2 emissions over the coming decade, tailing off towards zero by 2050. To reach this goal, it will require a transitional change in energy and raw materials use that needs to be initiated in the next few years. Pathways and technologies for industry decarbonisation include improved energy efficiency, electrification, reuse and recycling. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – the process of capturing CO2 and sequester it in the seabed – could also be used for hard to abate emissions from these sectors.

In the Netherlands, the climate policy plans for the coming years are laid out in the National Climate Agreement, which contains the policies and measures agreed on by the Dutch government and the sectors1. This includes the goal to reduce industrial emissions by an additional 14.3 Mt CO2 annually up to 2030, on top of the 5.1 Mton CO2 emission reduction prescribed understanding policies.

To ensure that the CCS deployment would not hamper the development of other decarbonisation technologies, the Dutch Climate Agreement limits public subsidies to CCS. Other means of CO2 abatement must be prioritised; subsidised CCS may account for at most half the CO2 reduction target for industry (7.2 Mt CO2); and after 2035 no new CCS subsidies are to be granted for fossil CO2. The details of this policy have not yet been decided on.

Focused on the Netherlands, this study reviews the main routes for reducing industrial CO2 emissions and examines four industries with high CO2 emissions where there is currently major interest in CCS: the steel, cement, chemicals production and refinery sectors. It identifies the industrial processes for which CCS will be needed to reach the 2030 and 2050 emission reduction targets in the Netherlands and where, instead, the use of CCS might lead to risks of lock-in in fossil processes.