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Researchers find emissions targets are out of reach

The targets for lower emissions of carbon dioxide from Europe’s basic industries are out of reach, according to research

The targets for lower emissions of carbon dioxide from Europe’s basic industries are out of reach, without urgent introduction of innovative carbon dioxide mitigation technologies, according to researchers at Chalmers University of Technology.

The university came to this conclusion after several years of research into carbon-intensive industry in Europe.

“There is an urgent need to demonstrate and implement carbon capture and storage, CCS, and other carbon dioxide mitigation technologies”, says Johan Rootzén, who recently presented his doctoral thesis at Chalmers University of Technology.

“While this will involve major investments in primary production, our results suggest that there will only be marginal impacts on costs and prices in the end-use sectors.”

The debate about how to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide often focuses on emissions from generation of electricity and transport.

Johan Rootzén has researched another major source of emissions: energy-intensive heavy industry in Sweden and EU, such as oil refining, and production of cement and steel.

“There is a lack of strategy from political actors about how emissions from these industries should be reduced, even though these industries are responsible for a tenth of emissions of carbon dioxide in Europe and nearly 20% in Sweden”, says Mr Rootzén.

“At the same time Sweden and the EU have a target in which emissions should be almost zero by 2050.”

In Chalmers’ Division of Energy Technology, different technologies for mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions, including carbon dioxide capture and storage, have been developed over the years.

Professor Filip Johnsson, who has been leading the Chalmers research, said it is easy to that we should achieve zero emissions, but this requires that we take the issues seriously and are given the opportunity to demonstrate new technologies; CCS as well as other mitigation options.

Mr Johnsson said the research suggests that without a shift in technology then refineries, steel and cement industries alone are going to be the source of up to a quarter of the emissions in 2050.

In his thesis, Johan Rootzén also concludes that a shift in technology to a less carbon intense production of steel and cement would only have a marginal effect on the final price of a car or a house, despite the large investments required in the production step of the primary materials.

 

This is because the cost of these materials is such a small part of the cost of the final product.

He now hopes that he and his colleagues’ research will lead to politicians in both Sweden and Europe taking the decision to pave the way for CCS and other mitigation technologies, which could seriously reduce emissions from energy-intensive industry.

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