As carbon capture is moving from pilot installations to real solutions, the demand for big facilities follow. In these projects no answers are given up front, and there is no direct route to the right solutions. Which is exactly why working on buildings for this type of project could be just the challenge you are looking for.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is new territory for engineers. When our energy colleagues start to have an idea of the specifications of a solution, they ask us to do the 'packaging'.
Denmark’s biggest single emitter of carbon is Aalborg Portland, one of the world’s leading cement producers. After testing carbon capture directly at the source on a smaller scale, COWI is now working with Aalborg Portland to help reduce the carbon emissions from production by 70 per cent – this involves capturing carbon emissions corresponding to the total emissions from 200,000 Danes.
A process where the technology, solutions and specifications are seeing constant development. And the buildings that house the installations are also seeing continual changes and iterations. It’s not easy, but it sure is challenging and fun to work on.
If you are a highly qualified engineer specialised in large buildings and have five to ten years of experience, you could be working on the next carbon capture project at COWI.
“I think we'll look back on the carbon capture projects we are doing and see how they're defining in many ways. The buildings industry accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and we have an obligation to do everything we can to reduce this. At COWI every single project has a dedicated sustainability lead or green lead, and we perform CO₂ calculations for every single part of every project. To me, that's the defining model for the future.”
COWI has carried out:
The next phase of the project currently awaits answer on an application at the Danish Energy Agency.
Large-scale carbon capture projects and solutions belong to the category of 'we haven’t done this before'. And the projects are gigantic – for instance, Aalborg Portland, which produces cement and is Denmark’s biggest single CO₂ emitter, is currently working on a project to capture two million tonnes of CO₂ a year. That equals the emissions from almost 200,000 Danes.
Both the solution needed to capture that amount of CO₂ and the building housing the solution are big. In fact, working on the Aalborg Portland project can be compared to building half a super hospital. In similar fashion, the technology and the challenges are right up there with some of the biggest building projects you come across as an engineer.
We can make green roofs and put solar panels on buildings, but we will never reach net zero if we do not succeed in storing and utilising carbon from fossil fuels. Thus, carbon capture is becoming an essential tool for many governments, including Denmark and Norway, to reach their climate targets. It is a cornerstone in the green transition, and we have only seen the beginning.
If you want to get on board and be part of building solutions for the future, check out our open positions below. You will be part of a team and an organisation determined to help shape a more sustainable and liveable world.