Climate change.. demands to rethink energy-intensive industrial sectors Responsible for a third of emissions

  • 14 February, 2022
  • 5:50 pm EET

Most of the world’s countries are fighting a battle to counter the negative impacts of climate change by expanding green investments and clean energy projects.

To avoid the consequences of climate change, he is driving the adoption of policies needed to eliminate global carbon emissions by 2050, often focusing on emissions from sources of power plants, buildings and cars, while more than a third of emissions come from heavy transport such as trucks and planes and the manufacture of energy-intensive materials such as steel and cement .

Most hard-to-mitigate sectors produce things we will continue to need in a carbon-constrained world, including steel, cement, aluminum, industrial chemicals, and heavy transportation.

Climate change challenges require the world to tackle this sector to achieve carbon neutrality, through a combination of new technologies, materials, design methods, financial technologies and business models, along with smart policies and investments.


Energy-Intensive Sectors

It must be remembered that the infrastructure needed to build a low-carbon economy to face climate change is made of steel and cement, despite their emissions and energy intensity; For steel, cement and chemical industries to run their operations, policy is expected to play an important role in achieving decarbonization of the industry, but it will require significant capital investment.

In their efforts to tackle the consequences of climate change, governments will need to help with the cost of investment and create markets for demand for low-carbon products.

After the energy sector, heavy industry is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide; They account for 27% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, and 4 materials – steel, cement, aluminum and chemicals – are responsible for 60% of current industry emissions.

Identifying viable ways to manage the decarbonization of these “hard-to-mitigate” sectors is critical to the transition process, and technology is a game-changer.


A sector Whose Emissions Are Difficult To Mitigate

The term “hard to mitigate sector” refers to any sector in which the transition is not simple; Because it either lacks technology or it remains too costly for many sectors.

So what is required to achieve carbon neutrality is relatively clear by switching to 100% carbon-neutral energy suppliers, especially since the steel industry uses coal as a heat source and part of the chemical process to convert iron ore into iron.

Eliminating CO2 emissions from the steel industry requires a process change; Using hydrogen as a heat source and a chemical reducing agent can eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, or carbon capture can remove them.

Steel can also be recycled without carbon dioxide emissions, but the demand for steel is too great to be met by recycled steel alone.

It can be difficult to reduce emissions in sectors with high energy consumption, for example, many heavy industries, such as the steel, cement and aluminum sectors, use heat-intensive processes.

Some sectors, including chemicals, also produce emissions from non-energy sources – ammonia production, for example, requires natural gas as a feedstock.

Many of these industrial processes are also very integrated and complex; This makes the challenge of finding new carbon-neutral approaches so complex and expensive, which, with the already prohibitive cost of refining these processes, can make many industries reluctant to pursue change.

Meanwhile, other sectors cannot be electrified; Because it requires high-density domestic energy sources such as fossil fuel sources.

Heavy industry makes vital products that we need to meet our daily needs and modern life, but it is also responsible for 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions; Steel, cement and chemicals are the top 3 gas-emitting industries, and are among the most challenging to remove carbon, due to technical factors such as the need for extremely high heat and carbon dioxide emissions.

Energy providers, infrastructure, chemicals, cement, and the energy sector are among the most difficult sectors to decarbonise, but they are essential to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement to address climate change.

The use of green technology is a game changer in the transition of industries that are difficult to reduce; The Corona “Covid-19” pandemic reduced global energy demand in 2020, but the International Energy Agency indicates that demand is expected to rise by 4.6% in 2021, which is 0.5% more than 2019 levels.


Heavy Industry Decarbonization

Decarbonizing the heavy industry sector to counter the effects of climate change is a challenge. Because its direct emissions are byproducts of chemical reactions or associated with processes that require very high heat or fossil fuels as feedstock.

The sector is usually dependent on fossil fuels such as coal for manufacturing processes; This makes reducing industrial fossil fuel consumption even more difficult.

Furthermore, there are other obstacles to rapid decarbonization, such as the long life of industrial facilities (perhaps more than 30 years) and the significant economic cost of industrial investment.

Another challenge is that lowering carbon content in steel or cement industries affects the quality of material output, and therefore, if the characteristics of carbon-intensive industrial products change, specifications associated with building codes and standards may need to change as well, especially if the changes involve a modification of physical properties. For common building materials.

This is why the world needs to move forward with developing technology and processes that can decarbonize direct emissions from heavy industry, and also, geographic constraints such as the local availability of renewable energy, energy feedstock, and infrastructure as well as the ability to store carbon may pose.


The Role Of Politics

Catalysing industry decarbonization will require collaboration with industry and the involvement of policy makers, and there are several ways in which policy can mobilize, develop and deploy new processes and technologies in heavy industry, including:

  • carbon pricing; This increases the costs of using fossil fuels in industrial processes.
  • Support energy efficiency and emissions standards for the deployment of low-carbon technologies.
  • Support research and development, by providing strong financial incentives to stimulate research and technical development.
  • Support carbon capture and sequestration technologies to address industry emissions.






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