Industrial parks have brought tremendous efficiencies to both corporate enterprises and to the global market as a whole. But as energy and industrial operations are faced with the challenge of climate change, how can we re-engineer them to be carbon-neutral without sacrificing financial performance?
Industrial Parks: Unsung Heroes of the Economy
An industrial park is simply a portion of a city zoned for industrial use that allows resource, infrastructure and logistical synergies—sometimes even tax incentives. These special districts even help protect equity for homeowners and commercial stakeholders (few people want to live or office next to a leather tannery, for example). These complexes might contain ports, warehouses, pipelines, special storage facilities, extreme duty cranes and other resources.
Industrial parks are usually located in proximity to waterways, motorways, airstrips and other important transportation channels. Putting all of these things in one place lowers a host of costs for manufacturers and shippers, helping them compete more effectively. Most people don’t think much about industrial parks. But this simple concept in land development provides a number of advantages, creating trillions of dollars in value around the world and allowing the cultivation of strategic industrial growth. Some of the world’s leading regions include the Port of Rotterdam, Jubail in eastern Saudi Arabia, the Houston Ship Channel, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland and the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.
These clusters have redefined industrial competitiveness for decades. But since the proving of this concept in the mid-1950s, their design has failed to take into account the issue of CO2 emissions. Now, as industrial enterprises face challenging Paris Agreement goals, it’s time we revisit these facilities with an eye toward not only operational and financial performance, but also carbon neutrality.
Introducing the Clean Campus
Oxy Low Carbon Ventures has gone beyond developing a strong vision for how to reinvent these facilities for carbon-friendly operation, and already has a new “Clean Campus” net-negative industrial park project in the FEED stage scheduled to go fully operational in the Permian Basin in the next few years. The Clean Campus concept brings together a portfolio of advanced carbon-friendly energy and industrial technologies that deliver all of the advantages of an industrial park but with zero carbon footprint—and even a number of capital and operational cost advantages.
These technologies include:
A revolutionary turbine system enabling natural gas power generation that’s 100 percent carbon-neutral.
Direct Air Capture
Advanced environmental hardware used to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere.
Carbon Neutral Production
Also known as Enhanced Oil Recovery, captured carbon is used to lower the CO2 footprint of produced hydrocarbons.
Deploying surplus CO2 as feedback for innovation tenants focused on CO2 utilization.
Individually, these technologies are allowing facilities to more aggressively pursue CO2 reduction goals. But applied together, they have the power to transition heavy industry to carbon neutrality worldwide.
Take, for example, a data center. There are more than 500 hyper-scale data centers around the world. In 2017, these facilities collectively used more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year (and that number is dated). That’s around 416 terawatts of power each, and it’s anticipated that this number will double every four years. Industry estimates for annual data center carbon emissions are somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 million metric tons.
Engineering, designing and building a data center using the Clean Campus model, the facility would be 100 percent powered by reliable, emission free power. Direct Air Capture (DAC) units would capture atmospheric CO2 to offset the balance of the facility’s carbon, while injecting this carbon into a Carbon Neutral Production stream would fuel the natural gas facility with low-carbon natural gas.
Our work, as well as that of our partner companies, is only a start. And we know there’s a long way to go. But it’s clear that carbon considerations will transition the industrial park into a more responsible age in a way that now benefits not just shareholders but for the world at large.