Technology, Infrastructure Key to Heavy Industry Net-Zero Improvements

Industrial Emissions

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Aug 2, 2022

Industrial Emissions

(Credit: Pixabay)

A report from the World Economic Forum pieces together ample amounts of data to help industries track technology, infrastructure, and policy to begin investing in the improvements on emissions needed to hit global net-zero targets.

The report highlights five heavy industries – steel, cement, aluminum, ammonia, and oil and gas. Those industries generate 80% of industrial emissions, according to an analysis by Accenture, which helped produce the report with the World Economic Forum.

Overall, the World Economic Forum says for these industries to catch up in net-zero efforts, more than $2 trillion is needed in capital expenditures on production assets. Those investments will become reality if what the report calls green premiums become reality to provide the industries and their investors acceptable returns on the risk.

The data shows several areas the industries need to focus on, including accelerating low-emissions technologies, enhanced infrastructure to support those technologies, standards for low-emissions production processes as well as low-emissions products, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and improved financing. The report says the industries face risks for investing in and developing technologies and products that reduce emissions, but that taking on these initiatives, including cross-industry collaboration, can help close those gaps.

The report says emissions related to industries contribute around 30% of the global emissions and 40% of energy use. That said, industries should first focus on reducing their Scope 1 and 2 emissions because they have the most control over those.

Four areas can help cut emissions related to production. These are optimizing demand, decarbonizing industrial processes, increasing energy efficiency, and decarbonizing energy sources.

The industries have taken on various sustainability initiatives recently.

Novelis and Steel Dynamics have each announced large aluminum recycling and production plants in the US. Energy sources such as green hydrogen are advancing in steel production, and technologies such as Carbon Upcycling’s carbon dioxide-embedded cement additive can reduce emissions in making concrete.

Oil and gas is one of the more emissions-intensive industries. Carbon capture and green hydrogen production are a few of the projects ongoing in the industry.

The report says demand for industrial products is going to surge through 2050, and demand-side efficiency gains are going to be needed to improve that production. Improvements in material efficiency, design regulations, recycling, and demand management can help in those areas. Additionally, investments will be needed to decarbonize the sectors in areas such as transport, buildings, and energy use.

The World Economic Forum says other than aluminum, all the industries have work to do to close the gap on targets by 2030 to reach 2050 net-zero targets. Having data such as that in the industry tracker will help monitor and accelerate efforts with transparency, by tracking progress, and highlighting areas for improvements, according to the report.

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