Rail and Ship Transport of CO2 to Storage: Key to Enable Slovenian Industrial Decarbonisation at Salonit Anhavo Cement Plant

Publish date: June 28, 2022

The Slovenian cement manufacturer, Salonit Anhavo, is looking to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to reduce emissions further on the path to net-zero by 2050. But barriers to project deployment and market development remain. Significantly: there is a lack of available CO2 storage sites, and a Slovenian ban on storage in the country itself. With storage sites available in nearby locations, Salonit Anhavo is looking at different solutions: including CO2 transport to storage through a combination of different transport modalities. We sat down with Salonit Anhavo Management Board Member Tomaž Vuk, to learn more. Notably, TEN-T Recognition and support could contribute positively to the development of CO2 transport via both ship and railway, which are two of the options considered by Salonit Anhavo.  

Why is Salonit Anhavo interested in CCS? 

“Well, in Slovenia we also have the so-called ‘harder to abate industries’, like cement and steel. To reach carbon neutrality, we need to do something with the CO2 from these industries. Storage is the most feasible and effective solution. In Slovenia, actually, we don’t have many possibilities for storage. And at present we even have legislation that bans storage in Slovenia. We are therefore looking to our neighbors, where there are some options for storage – notably in Croatia, Italy and Hungary.  

As a modern Slovenian cement plant, we have developed quite a lot already. In the last 15 years we have reduced our carbon footprint by 15-20%. For the next five years, by introducing alternative fuel compositions and alternative materials and some other measures, we can further reduce by 10%. But even with these measures we will still be a significant emitter of CO2. 

It seems to us right now, that the only option to reach carbon neutrality is to capture the CO2.  Once captured, and in our case this would be some 700,000 tons CO2 per year, we need to find a solution for this huge amount of CO2. We are looking at two options. While one is to use this CO2 as raw material, for something like producing hydrocarbons, this option has on short term a lot of limitations and limited positive climate change mitigation impact when the utilization does not include permanent storage or long-lived products fully integrated in a sustainable and circular life cycle. The other option is to store the captured CO2. We believe that this latter option is technologically more developed and offer a feasible way to reach carbon neutral cement production, and therefore we are interested”  

What do you see as the main challenges for CCS as a tool for industrial decarbonisation from a Slovenian perspective? 

“Here I would like to mention a few different challenges. Firstly, a regional challenge is that we don’t see too many developing CO2 storage projects. And not at the necessary size, corresponding to the expected need.  Northern Europe is much more advanced in that regard.  

The second challenge is that we need to find good transportation solutions for the CO2 to the storage sites. Here we are exploring different options, and while we are of course looking to pipelines as an option, we don’t really see well developed projects to create the necessary network of pipelines. Another complicating matter is the permitting processes and public acceptance issues related to pipelines and their construction. For such pipeline projects this means that it will take a lot of time to really prepare and then implement them.  

It is important to note that of course we need pipelines, and there are certain advantages connected to using pipelines, but in the short term, we believe this will not be available. Therefore, we have started looking into transportation of CO2 to the potential storage sites trough both railway and ships. We are in fact positioned about 40 km from the coast, so by combining different modalities of transport for CO2 we can find some good solutions here. We are also not alone, and there are other industrial partners that are also interested in such solutions. Now we need to find the appropriate partners that are on similar level of development and to check whether we can see a potential for building such solutions in partnerships.  

Talking about carbon storage is a transformation. And climate change is a huge challenge that you will not be able to solve alone. I think the industry is now in front of this discussion, on how to create partnerships and search for common solutions. At the end of the day, this is an important challenge but also opportunity for Slovenia and for some big emitters. As such, CCS is a very important option to be explored. Then the third challenge, is on the capturing side. We have some technologies, but not all are ready for industrial use. So, we still have some years of work to really develop these options. One complicating factor here, is that we know we will use more energy than we use now. We will need to find good sources of energy to also cover these demands.”  

How can the inclusion of multiple transport modalities, in particular rail and ship as is most relevant to you, in the TEN-T Regulation contribute positively to industrial decarbonization in Slovenia? 

“We are right now in an environment, and in a period, of extremely high risks. Large-scale deployment and business cases for CCS is still not created, and such investments can be a big risk for companies and potentially also for regions. In this period, if we want to see more moves in this green transformation, we need to create some funding to partially cover these risks. It will then be possible for companies and regions to step in this new direction. 

It is also important to understand the whole value chain when we talk about CCS. It’s not enough to develop and implement technology for carbon capture if we don’t have an option to both transport and store it. I think as mentioned earlier, pipelines have an important role to play, but we don’t have pipelines right now. In the meantime, we need to find other means of transport. In some case this is to overcome a transitional period, but in other cases multiple transport modalities are more suitable than pipelines – like ship or rail.   We need to be open to different solutions that would lead us to the final goal. This is something that is often somehow misunderstood: the one size fits all solutions is not always ideal in reaching the final goal.  So we need to develop all these options, all modalities for transporting CO2 to storage.” 

What other efforts, both on the EU and national level, do you think are important to foster industrial decarbonisation in Slovenia? 

“I would like to see much more discussion on the cross-country level about different options. For instance, we are positioned here on the western side of Slovenia and we know that there is a cluster of industry on the other side of the border in Italy. It doesn’t make sense that we develop a solely Slovenian solution. It would be better that we look to where there are other sources that need such solutions, and then create some integral solutions for all, to abate carbon. So here much more collaboration is needed. 

Also, greater understanding about the full value chain and all the challenges that each of these parts face, is key to address them. And for sure, to repeat my point on the TEN-T, without funding this will not reach the speed that we want to have.” 

One of the challenges that we face is also that the legislation and rules are not fully harmonized in Europe. The approach of policy also vary amongst different countries. This is an additional barrier to reach the final goal of decarbonisation. What we have in front of us, is a huge system that we need to put in place. Like the electricity grid we have over Europe, we know how to operate it. Similarly, we will need to create such as system for CO2 transportation also across Europe. And here I think it would help if we put some more effort in harmonizing our approach and rules. Because in many cases you need to operate over the borders of your own country, and I think it makes sense to think about how we can do it together.” 

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