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Heidelberg to develop $1.4B CCUS hub for Edmonton cement facility

Company says the operation will remove over one million tonnes of CO2 per year

IMAGE: Heidelberg's existing Edmonton cement plant
Heidelberg Materials' existing Edmonton cement plant. (Courtesy Heidelberg Materials North America)

Heidelberg Materials North America has partnered with the Canadian government to develop what will be the cement industry’s first full-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) facility, at the company’s Edmonton location.

Irving, Tex.-based Heidelberg Materials anticipates the approximately $1.4-billion facility will be operational by late 2026. It is estimated it will capture more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from cement production, as well as the combined heat and power facility integrated with the capture process.

Heidelberg and the Canadian government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin negotiations. Support would come from Canada's Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), although there is no confirmation on the scale of the contribution.

“Heidelberg Materials applied for funding initially in April of 2021, and as a result of consultations with the government ultimately seeking support through the SIF in February 2022," David Perkins, Heidelberg North America’s vice-president of government affairs and communications told SustainableBiz in an email exchange.

"The MOU is a major next step in the ongoing work between Heidelberg Materials and ISED (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada), through the Strategic Innovation Fund’s Net Zero Accelerator initiative."

Heidelberg Materials North America is the subsidiary of a similarly named German multinational, which is one of the largest building materials companies in the world. In the U.S. and Canada, Heidelberg Materials is a supplier of cement, aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and asphalt with more than 450 locations and has approximately 9,000 employees.

The Edmonton CCUS facility

A project feasibility study for the Edmonton facility was announced in 2019 and received a $1.4-million contribution from Emissions Reduction Alberta. It was completed in 2021. 

Heidelberg Materials committed $25 million in Q3 2022 to support the front-end engineering and design processes for the project.

“CCUS is not a new technology, some facilities have been operating since the 1970s and 1980s. Since these early projects, CCUS deployment has expanded to more regions and more applications. Heidelberg Materials has adapted the technology for use in the cement industry,” Perkins wrote.

Perkins said the Edmonton facility will use the amine scrubbing process as its choice of CCUS technology. Amine is a liquid that absorbs carbon dioxide when it is cool and releases it when heated. This allows Heidelberg to remove carbon dioxide from the facility's exhaust before it reaches the atmosphere, and store it in deep geological formations.

According to Reuters, Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. is developing the carbon sequestration hub where emissions will be stored.

“Engineering and design work will continue as we seek to complete this stage later this year, with a pilot plant to be placed into operation in that time frame as well,” Perkins wrote.

The City of Edmonton has a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The SIF’s Net Zero Accelerator initiative has a goal of reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030. 

The Canadian government proposed in the 2023 spring budget to extend the eligibility of CCUS investment tax credits to cement and concrete plants.

Heidelberg’s other operations

Heidelberg first set up Canadian operations in 1993. Today, it has three cement production facilities in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. It also has 13 cement terminals and operates pipe companies in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.

Perkins said Heidelberg has seven other CCUS projects in various stages of development around the world.

He gave the example of its Brevik, Norway cement plant, which is 40 per cent through construction of an industrial-scale CCUS facility. The facility will capture approximately 50 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions from the plant.

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