Swiss multinational building materials company Holcim has initiated the construction of its ‘GO4ZERO’ net-zero cement plant in Obourg, Belgium. 

The project, representing a significant stride in Europe’s decarbonisation efforts, was inaugurated with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and other key European leaders. 

With an investment exceeding €500m ($542m), the GO4ZERO project aims to produce approximately two million tons of net-zero cement annually by 2029.  

GO4ZERO initiative is set to be implemented in two phases. 

The first phase of the project involves replacing the existing clinker kiln with a new air-oxyfuel switchable kiln, which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions by nearly 30% per ton of clinker. 

Under the second phase, the company will integrate Air Liquide‘s Cryocap Oxy technology to capture CO₂ emissions from the production process.  

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The purified CO₂, with a purity level of more than 99.5%, will then be transported to the Antwerp@C CO₂ Export Hub for liquefaction and subsequent storage beneath the North Sea. 

Holcim Group CEO Miljan Gutovic said: “By advancing decarbonisation as a driver of profitable growth, Holcim is on course to make net-zero cement and concrete a reality at scale this decade.  

“GO4ZERO is one of our six large-scale, European Union-supported carbon capture, utilisation and storage projects. These aim to capture a total of over five million tons of CO₂ per annum, enabling us to offer over eight million tons of fully decarbonised cement each year across Europe by 2030.” 

Holcim said that the GO4ZERO plant will be a model of sustainability, sourcing more than 95% of its energy from alternative fuels and incorporating more than 30% of partly decarbonised alternative raw materials into its raw mix.  

These materials are primarily waste products from other industries, promoting the concept of circularity within the sector. 

By 2027, the plant is expected to achieve a 30% reduction in CO₂ emissions and will also feature a floating solar panel installation.  

Holcim’s collaboration with Air Liquide is supported by a €230m contribution from the Innovation Fund, which is financed by the EU Emissions Trading System.