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New legislation, corporate action, and public interest have created both an imperative and opportunities associated with rapid and profound CO2 reduction and removal. Net-zero industrial hubs present a pathway to focus investment, innovation, and public policy to create industries and infrastructure toward achieving that goal. Such a hub would require building facilities, plants, and linked infrastructure that would reduce and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions through the application of advanced clean energy, emissions control technology, and possibly CO2 removal technology. This concept, while relatively new, has already gained interest from some nations and companies, most notably in the United Kingdom around net-zero hubs like the Teesside collective.
This paper, part of the work from the Carbon Management Research Initiative of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, examines Houston as a potential net-zero hub location. Houston, a major US refining and petrochemical center, possesses a high concentration of industrial sites and fossil-fueled power plants. Regional CO2 storage capacity, low-cost energy, infrastructure like the Port of Houston, and a large skilled labor pool also suggest a possible opportunity for investment, trade, and greenhouse gas reduction in this area. The paper also makes recommendations for policy makers should they seek to pursue a net-zero hub in the Houston area.
Key findings of the paper include the following:
Rapid decarbonization efforts have been turning to novel low-carbon hydrogen applications as a potential solution for hard-to-abate sectors.
Deep borehole disposal of high-level radioactive waste has been proposed repeatedly and in multiple countries over the last several decades, but the concept remains unproven in the field.