Top ways to Decarbonize Heavy Industries in 2022

Alessia Gaspodini   ·   Oct 16 2022

There is an urgent need to move towards a low-carbon future. The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. So do Australia and the USA. The Chinese government announced it will reach carbon neutrality in 2060. India in 2070. To move in the right direction and keep global warming at acceptable levels by limiting the temperature rise, decarbonization is definitely a key point. This article will look at three of the most effective decarbonization technologies and how they might affect heavy industry and engineering in order to cut carbon emissions and meet our ambitious but necessary climate goal.

According to Eco Experts, the UK's largest solar panel comparison site, the most polluting industries are the energy, transportation, and construction sectors: heating and electricity are responsible for 15.83 billion annual GHG emissions; road and air traffic, for 8.43 billion; and manufacturing, for 6.3 billion. To reduce those numbers, the Mission Possible Partnership put the decarbonization of heavy industries by mid-century as a top priority. The four core partners of this green alliance are the Energy Transitions Commission, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the We Mean Business coalition, and the World Economic Forum.

“Our goal is to propel a committed community of CEOs from carbon-intensive industries, together with their financiers, customers, and suppliers, to agree and act on decarbonising industry and transport in this decade. Supported by an expanding network of nearly 300 partners across corporate, finance, and policy, MPP is empowering high-ambition sector initiatives in seven target sectors, which mobilize the full value chain to decarbonize these carbon-intensive industries.” - the MPP’s mission statement.


Here are 3 of the main decarbonization technologies to cut heavy industry’s emissions in 2022:

More accessible green hydrogen and renewables production and distribution
Due to its three primary uses as a fuel, feedstock, and energy storage, green hydrogen is essential to the green transition. Here’s an interesting read by the Rhodium Group on how clean hydrogen is a versatile tool for decarbonization.

Also, in case you missed our blog post about the 2022 top trends in renewable energy, here’s the link where we explored such megatrends through our AI platform, SCOUT:
- Third-Generation Photovoltaic Cells
- Distributed Energy Storage Systems
- Hydro Power
- Wind Energy
- Bioenergy (one of the top solutions to replace fossil fuels)
- Green Hydrogen

Many big companies and organizations have already started to switch to renewables, developing new strategies, reducing waste, and upgrading facilities and equipment. Renewable energy plays a massive role in the current global energy crisis, and it’s also a good candidate for decarbonizing heavy industries and engineering and fighting climate change. A diverse integration of clean energy solutions is definitely one of the most effective approaches. 

Did you know that iron and its oxides can be used to store wind and solar power? Check out the Clean Circles project here:

"Electricity from renewables is used to reduce iron oxide (storage). At a different place and time, the iron is oxidized again to take out thermal energy for electricity generation (release). In this way, renewable energy is stored in large quantities, transported and made available free of CO2 – an unsolved challenge of the energy transition in the face of changing political conditions".


Investing in Carbon Capture
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) also helps reduce carbon emissions worldwide. On average, CCS technologies capture and store 90% of the carbon dioxide from a power plant. The most efficient technology, which captures 100%, is called oxyfuel combustion capture (but it’s also the most expensive). Considering 26 active CCS projects, as of 2021, 40 million tonnes of carbon per year have been stored. However, even if it’s one of the main strategies towards decarbonization, it’s still quite an expensive process which also requires a lot of energy. Is the future of CCS technology still uncertain? How do you think businesses will (or not) take advantage of this process? Here’s our FORECASTS panel in SCOUT that you can access for free and get a comprehensive overview of the future of CCS according to our AI platform.


Replacing coal with charcoal
As a soil conditioner, charcoal has great potential. It can produce steel using blast furnace-blast oxygen furnaces (BF-BOF), the process that is responsible for more than 95 percent of the world’s virgin steel. That’s why it is a key point in the process of decarbonization.

Many countries have also started to price carbon to speed up this process of heavy-industry’s decarbonisation, but carbon emissions are still high. New Zeleand was the first government to introduce such a national tax, and that was back in 2007. The United States still doesn't have one (however, states like California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts have carbon pricing plans to fight climate change in their territories). Today, there are 46 countries with a carbon taxation action plan. Uruguay (which set up its carbon tax in January 2022) has the highest carbon tax rate worldwide, which corresponds to 137 U.S. dollars per metric ton of CO2 equivalent (USD / tCO2e). Will this make a change in the process of decarbonization of heavy industries and engineering?