Climate Change

Building materials leading CO2 utilization market to USD 550 billion by 2040

Building materials CO2 utilization market to USD 550 billion by 2040

Photo: Lux Research

Published

February 18, 2021

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Published:

February 18, 2021

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The global market for CO2 utilization will reach USD 70 billion by 2030 and USD 550 billion by 2040, according to the latest projection. As governments and the industry are turning to the technology that helps mitigate climate change, cement and other building materials offer the biggest potential for investment.

While carbon dioxide is a significant contributor to climate change, interest in a potential carbon economy is growing, Lux Research said in its report called ‘CO2 Capture & Utilization: The Emergence of a Carbon Economy’. Its forecast leans on the upward trajectory in the use of the most well-known greenhouse gas in buildings and the sectors that supply chemicals, materials, fuels and food.

Governments and investors are turning to potential benefits from the drive to capture and store CO2 as a way to ease global warming. Despite unprecedented action against climate change over the past decade, global emissions witnessed steady growth and only fell in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cement, concrete production has notable potential

The provider of tech-enabled research and advisory services revealed the global carbon dioxide capture and utilization market is likely to rise to USD 70 billion by 2030 and USD 550 billion by 2040. The biggest driver is the building materials sector, which is set to capture 86% of the market in the next two decades. CO2 can be used to produce aggregates to mix with cement or injected directly into wet concrete.

Technologies for CO2 utilization in the building industry have low technical barriers

Technologies for CO2 utilization in the building industry have low technical barriers – adoption will only be impeded by regulatory constraints, says Runeel Daliah, lead author and the firm’s analyst.

Opportunities in chemical industry

Carbon dioxide can also be converted into chemicals, carbon additives, fuels, polymers and proteins. Current commercial-scale CO2 capture and storage (CCS) projects are mostly for industrial gas separations in natural gas processing and fertilizer production.

“Fuels, chemicals, and carbon additives provide vast potential for CO2 utilization, but it will not be reached without extensive innovation or regulatory support for widespread adoption. The polymers and protein sectors will remain niche applications of CO2 utilization despite the expected success of the technology,” Daliah adds.

Direct air capture to remain niche

CO2 utilization adoption in fuels will be driven by the production of synthetic jet fuel – the technology has high production costs, but synthetic fuels are essential for the aviation sector to decarbonize. The compound is also used for producing methane.

Jet fuel and methane can be produced from carbon dioxide

To date, there were only two post-combustion capture projects built at the commercial scale – the Boundary Dam CCS in Canada and Petra Nova CCS in the United States. It is the separation of CO2 from combustion flue gas. Direct air capture will remain a niche, the report’s authors added.

“CO2 capture is an important solution for emitters with no near-term and economical alternatives for reducing emissions. Novel technologies are targeting capture costs of sub- USD 80 per metric ton of CO2 but have yet to validate such claims at scale. Near-term deployment will therefore rely on aggressive carbon pricing and financial incentives to drive momentum,” senior research associate Holly Havel said.

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