Alberta and Saskatchewan partner on study of commercial-scale CO2 capture and storage for the cement industry

Mark Lowey
December 11, 2019

Lehigh Cement and the International CCS Knowledge Centre are partnering on a feasibility study of a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta.

The Alberta government, through Emissions Reduction Alberta, is investing $1.4 million in the $3-million study.

The study will examine the feasibility of capturing carbon dioxide from the flue gas of Lehigh’s cement plant in Edmonton, to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The work will include engineering designs, cost estimates and a business case analysis.

“It is a North American first in the cement industry to examine the feasibility of full-scale CCS as a definitive solution to cut GHG emissions,” the partners said in a statement.

“We are part of Heidelberg Cement Group’s vision of CO2-neutral concrete by 2050 and the potential of concrete to become the most sustainable building material,” said Joerg Nixdorf, president of Lehigh Hanson Canada Region.

The cement industry contributes as much as 8% to global CO2 emissions, including 11 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year in Canada in 2017.

Cement companies are challenged in achieving dramatic reductions in GHGs, says David Layzell, professor and director of Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) initiative at the University of Calgary. Cement plants not only emit CO2 from burning fossil fuels, but even more CO2 can come from process emissions in converting limestone to cement, Layzell told RE$EARCH MONEY.

“CCS is one of the few technologies that cement companies have at their disposal to virtually eliminate both emission sources. It would be great to see this being done in Alberta,” he says.

While not part of the new study, CESAR is researching ways to reduce GHGs at cement plants and developing a carbon- and cost-accounting tool for plant operators.

The Lehigh-Knowledge Centre study will target a 90 to 95% CO2 capture rate – or 600,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent of removing 104,000 cars from the road each year. The Regina-based Knowledge Centre played a major role in Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam 3 CCS facility — a world-first in full-scale CCS at a coal-fired power plant.

Following the feasibility study, a front-end engineering study would be done to provide detailed engineering design and the business case for final investment. It could take three years until construction starts.

Jason Nixon, minister of Alberta Environment and Parks, said the initiative is an example of the “innovative, game-changing technology” supported by the government’s carbon levy on large industrial emitters. “It also shows the bold leadership and entrepreneurial spirit of our industries, that continue to set an example by seeking out unique solutions and untapped technologies that can lower emissions at home and around the world.” 

The number of large-scale CCS facilities worldwide grew to 51 in 2019, a 34% increase since 2017, according to a report released this week by the Global CCS Institute. That includes 19 operating facilities, four under construction, and 28 in various stages of development. To date, more than 260 million tonnes of CO2 have been safely captured and permanently stored globally.


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