A groundbreaking study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has unveiled the monumental challenge facing Indian steel and cement industries. To achieve net-zero carbon emissions, they must invest an additional ₹47 trillion in capital expenditure, coupled with an annual operational expenditure (OPEX) of ₹1 trillion, making this a critical endeavor for India's economic development.
The CEEW study identifies practical solutions. It proposes an achievable 8-25% reduction in emissions for steel and a substantial 32% reduction for cement. The key lies in adopting innovative technologies such as waste-heat recovery and energy-efficient systems, revolutionizing these traditionally emission-intensive sectors.
In the 2021-22 fiscal year, the Indian steel industry released a staggering 297 million tonnes of carbon dioxide during crude steel production. This resulted in an average emission intensity of 2.36 tCO₂/tcs, significantly exceeding the global average of 1.89 tCO₂/tcs.
Cost of Net-Zero Steel Production
The ambitious journey towards near net-zero steel production in India carries a price tag, with costs expected to be 40-70% higher. These costs depend on factors such as technology choices, production methods, and the utilization and storage of captured carbon (CCUS).
Despite its reputation as one of the world's most energy-efficient sectors, the Indian cement industry emitted 218 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018-19, while producing 337 million tonnes of cement. The challenge arises from fossil fuel usage and inherent emissions stemming from limestone processing.
Around 50% of cement plants in India urgently require access to CO2 pipelines to facilitate carbon capture and storage (CCUS). The potential solution lies in utilizing existing natural gas pipelines' right-of-way, enabling plants to opt for CCUS.