The potential of carbon utilisation in a net zero emission economy, ICSC/330

A concrete mixer with CO2 injection at a construction site. Credit: CarbonCure


Achieving net zero emissions (NZE) requires diverse approaches for different sectors and a broad suite of technologies including electrification, hydrogen, sustainable biofuels and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS). More countries are relying on CCUS in their long-term climate change mitigation policies. Led by Europe and North America, several countries have developed comprehensive legal and regulatory frameworks and provided significant funding and investment incentives for CCUS, while policies on climate and/or CCUS are advancing or being considered in others. Recent investment incentives and ambitious climate targets are building momentum for CCUS, resulting in many new projects being announced globally.

Technologies for converting recycled carbon dioxide (CO2) into a value-added product are attracting increasing interest for their potential role in emissions mitigation and in a circular NZE economy. Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) covers a wide variety of technologies and processes with varying levels of technical and commercial maturity, and differing mitigation potential across a range of applications. A matrix of CCU technologies for the production of commercially established products including chemicals, fuels, polymers and building materials, has reached the commercialisation or demonstration stage. Commercial plants are operational in different parts of the world transforming captured CO2 into fuels and chemicals, and more projects are in development. There is a wide range of products based on CO2‑derived polymers that are essential in daily life in the commercial market. Hundreds of concrete plants in America, Asia and Europe are adopting a CO2-curing process. Several plants are manufacturing building materials from the carbonation of industrial wastes with captured CO2, and the list goes on.

CCU can provide climate benefits by displacing an equivalent product with higher life-cycle CO2 emissions such as fossil-based fuels, chemicals, or conventional building materials. With its versatility of application and demonstrated effectiveness, CCU is a necessary element of the technology suite that must be deployed if the world is to achieve NZE. This report reviews the latest developments in CCU, including CCUS-related national and regional policies and regulations and the status of CCUS. Progress in CO2 conversion technologies and applications is described and the potential role of CCU in achieving the NZE goals in a circular economy is assessed.


The potential of carbon utilisation in a net zero emission economy

Report Author(s)

Dr Qian Zhu

Report Number




Publication date

9 January 2024