Published on January 7th, 2022 | by Bibhuranjan


Industrial Decarbonization: Paving the Way for a Brighter Future

The industrial sector plays a vital role in the economic health of a country. It generates employment, contributes to an increase in GDP, and creates products and materials vital to our routine lives.

While industrial operations positively impact society and the economy, their impact on the environment is met with a lot of friction by climate change activists. Industries are one of the primary greenhouse gas emitters, making industrial decarbonization crucial to achieving the global GHG reduction goals. This article will focus on what industrial decarbonization is and how it can pave the way for a brighter future.

What is Industrial Decarbonization?

Reducing industrial carbon emissions is defined as industrial decarbonization. It presents itself as a vital component to realizing the objective of net-zero emissions by 2050. While energy improvements can reduce industrial carbon emissions to zero, it requires significant economic investment along with the adoption of carbon capture, biomass, hydrogen, and more.

Image Credits: Freepik

The Challenges to Industrial Decarbonization

  • Manufacturing cement, ammonia, steel, and ethylene leads to considerable CO2 emissions and are the hardest to put a hold on. One of the reasons for this is the inability to control CO2 emissions by changing the fuel. Only improvements to the entire process can help reduce the emission levels.
  • Furthermore, the requirement for excessive heat in the manufacturing process of these products can only be fulfilled by fossil fuels. Electrical furnaces would need significant modifications to cater to the specifications
  • The long life of industries makes it exceedingly difficult to make changes to existing installations. This
  • Industries function as an integrated whole; therefore, a change to any one of the processes would necessitate modifications to all of them.

The challenges to industrial decarbonization are highly economical in nature. The substantial cost of adopting low carbon processes and equipment put industries at a disadvantage when compared to the competition.

Factors Influencing Industrial Decarbonization

Despite the challenges, industries can make a move towards zero carbon emissions; however, the transition would be accompanied by a few factors.

  • Improvements in energy efficiency, construction of hydrogen with zero-carbon electricity, transition to biomass as a feedstock or fuel, and adopting processes like carbon capture utilization (CCU) and storage (CCS) is crucial to industrial decarbonization. While the transformation to zero-carbon processes would be based on economic viability and other local factors, companies will need to assess their options and make a call that best suits their site.
  • Another primary factor influencing industrial decarbonization is the cost and availability of renewable and other low carbon energy sources. It is challenging to find zero-carbon electricity and biomass that is sustainably produced.
  • The access to storage capacities for CO2 would have a massive impact on the viability of carbon capture utilization and storage. The regulatory and public support for processes like CCU and CCS would further impact adoption.

Paving the Way for a Brighter Future

  • Transforming biomass as a feedstock or fuel qualifies as a productive way for industries to abate emissions.
  • In the presence of carbon storage sites, industries should adopt carbon capture and utilization to completely alleviate process-related CO2 emissions.
  • Augmenting energy efficiency is economical for industries to abate CO2 emissions and facilitate industrial decarbonization.
  • Leveraging zero-carbon electricity to produce hydrogen can qualify as an economic strategy for many industries. While stored carbon can also be a productive alternative, wholesale zero-carbon electricity can assist in cost savings and reducing emissions.

Industrial decarbonization will necessitate combined efforts to ensure carbon neutrality across facilities. Stakeholders will be required to evaluate processes and the availability of low carbon electricity, carbon storage, and biomass to expedite adoption and pave the way for a carbon-free future.

Cover Image Credits: Freepik

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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