The EU Innovation Fund, one of the world’s largest funding programs for innovative low-carbon technologies, will support Heidelberg Materials with €191 million ($209 million) to develop a unique CCS value chain at the German Geseke cement plant.
The funding complements substantial investments by the company. Following the successful conclusion of the Grant Agreement, the project will officially be launched on 1 January 2024. Geseke is set to become the first German cement plant that will produce carbon-captured net-zero cement and clinker.
“The successful Grant Agreement demonstrates the relevance of GeZero for the decarbonization of our sector, and the trust that European authorities place in our approach… We just recently introduced our evoZero brand, the world’s first carbon captured net-zero cement on the market. The product will initially be offered through our Brevik CCS project in Norway. Once other capture projects such as GeZero start operations, these plants will also be able to deliver net-zero cement and clinker to customers, significantly speeding up the decarbonization of our industry,” says Dr Nicola Kimm, Chief Sustainability Officer and Member of the Managing Board of Heidelberg Materials.
Mona Neubaur, Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia: “About one third of the German cement production is located in North Rhine-Westphalia. We are therefore delighted that the first carbon-free cement plant in Geseke in the district of Soest is a flagship project for a sustainable and climate-neutral future in the cement industry. GeZero shows how climate protection through new technologies and processes can also be achieved in energy-intensive industries. The project represents a decisive step towards a future-proof cement production and the transition to a net-zero industry in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and beyond.”
In addition to the construction of the capture facility and a new oxyfuel kiln, the unique approach of the GeZero project includes a CO2 transport solution via train to bridge the gap until the necessary pipeline infrastructure will be available and is scaled to capture around 700,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The CO2 will be transported to Wintershall Dea’s CO2 hub to be safely stored in the North Sea. Construction of the facility will start in 2026, and commissioning is planned for 2029.
“Together with our partners, we walk the talk and pave the way for CCUS in Germany,” says Christian Knell, General Manager Germany of Heidelberg Materials. “GeZero will complement our global project portfolio with a truly unique approach. We are developing a promising novel solution for inland cement sites, with the intention to inspire industry peers and other emission-intensive sectors to follow.”
The EU Innovation Fund focuses on flagship projects with European value added that can bring significant emission reductions. In response to its third call for large-scale projects, the European Commission had received 239 applications. 37 were selected for funding and have signed the Grant Agreement.
Heidelberg Materials’ ANRAV projects in Bulgaria received backing by the EU Innovation Fund last year. The project aims to establish the first full-chain CCUS facility in Eastern Europe, with a capture capacity of about 800,000 t CO2 per year starting from 2028.