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Real Zero and the Industry

04/02/2021

Studio Victoria

4 minutes

Leading on from the UK government's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution where the government makes energy efficiency a top priority in order to reach its Race to Zero targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), in this article we will be exploring what causes emissions in the Industry and how to become more energy-efficient by answering the following questions: What are the four industry emitters? and How can the Heavy Industry become more energy-efficient to achieve Real Zero? Keep reading to learn about how you could implement Real Zero to help you to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!

WHAT ARE THE FOUR INDUSTRY EMITTERS?

The UK government has introduced a number of policies in order for all industries and sectors across the UK to make energy efficiency a priority in order to reduce carbon emissions entering the atmosphere. By 2050 the UK government aims to [reduce the UK’s greenhouse gasses by 100% by 2050] and with the Industry estimated to account for one-quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, here we discuss the main four industrial emitters (cement, steel, aluminium, and chemicals):

1. CEMENT

In the Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) states that cement contributes to around 10% of direct UK industrial emissions, with more than half of those emissions coming from the process of producing clinker. Clinker is the main ingredient in cement and is made by heating a mixture of raw materials in a rotary kiln at high temperature.

2. STEEL

Steel is produced by iron ore mixed with coal and with the high demand it accounts for 17% of UK industrial emissions. For the future of steel production, recycling could be a potential opportunity in hopes to produce zero carbon emissions and reduce the supply and demand.

3. ALUMINIUM

Emissions are caused by the electrodes used in smelting. Smelting is a process of applying heat to ore to extract a base metal such as silver, copper, and iron, and so carbon emissions enter the atmosphere as it gives off CO2 as they wear down.

4. CHEMICALS

The CCC's Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament expresses how the chemical industry contributes to about 12% of UK industry's direct emissions. Processes such as steam cracking to create light olefins use a lot of energy and therefore, it is believed that improving energy efficiency across all relevant sectors and adapting to technology will play an important role in reducing energy consumption in the chemical industry.

HOW CAN THE HEAVY INDUSTRY HELP THE UK TO ACHIEVE REAL ZERO?

With 60% of direct industrial emissions coming from manufacturing and cement, steel, aluminium, and chemicals producing high emissions, a way industry can reduce emissions is by shifting from using fossil fuels to clean energy. Here we go through several ways the Industry can achieve Real Zero:

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS): This technology can dramatically help the Industry to reduce emissions as CO2 is captured preventing it from entering the atmosphere, where it is then stored underground. In 2019, the UK government announced a £800m funding for CCS projects in the 2019 budget to help businesses implement the technology
  • Reducing clinker: As we mentioned, half of emissions in creating cement comes from the process of producing clinker and therefore, replacing raw materials with ingredients such as graphene and substituting the fossil fuels like coal, can subsequently make the process of creating clicker a lot cleaner and reduce emissions. As well as, potentially cutting costs due to the new ingredients being less expensive. For buildings using alternative building materials and on-site construction could lower emissions by more than 50% without compromising the quality of structures
  • Recycling steel: Due to steel being made by iron ore mixed with coal, recycling steel could help reduce carbon emissions and reduce the supply and demand. Steel can be made by using electric arc furnaces which can be powered from renewables, and with the ability to separate steel from other metals this means steel can me upcycled. Three companies have also joined forces to also develop a steelmaking process that emits water rather than carbon dioxide, aiming to replace coal with hydrogen
  • Replacing carbon with hydrogen: Aluminium is used to make a variety of different things such as cars, construction materials, industrial machinery, drinks cans, and so on. Emissions are caused by the electrodes used in process smelting, the companies Rio Tinto and Alcoa have developed a replacement material that instead of releases CO2, it releases oxygen, helping to substantially cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in aluminium production. This is set to become commercially available around the year 2024
  • Separating chemicals: Not all chemicals can have a universal solution however, for some end-products, companies can use bioprocessing, separating chemicals with membranes instead of using heating and distillation to lower emissions and save money
  • Low-carbon electrification and heating: Using low-carbon processors such as heat pumps can continue decarbonising the electricity from the grid. To find out more about renewable energy sources and the Ten Point Plan the UK government is implementing to drive a sustainable and more energy-efficient future with the use of low-carbon approaches, then click click here to find out more

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