IN4climate.NRW: Unavoidable production of CO2 in a climate-neutral primary sector in NRW
Even assuming that the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has achieved climate neutrality by 2050, it is probable that products will still be manufactured by means of industrial processes that produce carbon dioxide. These so-called unavoidable volumes of CO2 have, however, not yet been clearly defined. In order to find a solution for managing these volumes, an explanation of the term is required that sets out explicit criteria for determining what is unavoidable. In a discussion paper, the authors from IN4climate.NRW’s working group on the carbon dioxide economy provide a definition for process-related, unavoidable CO2 production.
“Process-related CO2 production refers to the formation of carbon dioxide in industrial processes that are not exclusively aimed at energy conversion and can thus not simply be avoided by using a ‘more climate-friendly’ energy carrier. One such example is the production of CO2 in the lime industry when carbon dioxide is given off by the carbonate rock during the burning process. Of course, the aim is not to release this CO2 into the atmosphere. Rather, the goal is to capture it for further processing or, if no alternatives are available, to store it on a long-term basis,” explains Samir Khayat, Managing Director of the IN4climate.NRW initiative.
Such process-related CO2 is then deemed unavoidable if its production cannot be avoided despite optimisation of the production process or product. If no alternative processes and no alternative products or resources producing less CO2 are available for the same application either, a future climate-neutral industrial sector will need to find a way to avoid the volumes of CO2 that continue to be produced from being emitted into the atmosphere. “Establishing sustainable solutions for managing unavoidable CO2 as part of a carbon dioxide economy is a particularly challenging task on our journey towards climate neutrality. The short distances between industrial sites in North Rhine-Westphalia could make this an ideal location to develop and implement suitable solutions,” stresses Dr. Johannes Ruppert from the German Cement Manufacturers’ Association (VDZ), who made a significant contribution to the discussion paper.
The IN4climate.NRW working group has set itself the goal of drawing on scientific support to discuss the fundamental steps required to establish a carbon dioxide economy in North Rhine-Westphalia and documenting the findings of this discussion. The publication of the papier has been supported by the companies Air Liquide Deutschland GmbH, Covestro AG, HeidelbergCement AG, RHM Rohstoff-Handelsgesellschaft mbH, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG and Spenner GmbH & Co. KG as well as by the German Cement Manufacturers’ Association (VDZ), Germany’s Lime and Mortar Research Association (Forschungsgemeinschaft Kalk und Mörtel e. V.) and the research institutions Fraunhofer UMSICHT (Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology), the German Economic Institute (IW), Cologne, RWTH Aachen University and the Wuppertal Institute.
The discussion paper’s findings may be used as a basis on which to estimate how much CO2 will continue to be unavoidably produced at which locations in North Rhine-Westphalia in the future as well as which methods of managing the CO2 are conceivable, such as utilisation, transport or storage. This paper thus creates a basis for further discussions that will drive the formation of a carbon dioxide economy forward, thereby supporting the process of transformation towards a climate-neutral industrial sector.