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Fortera opens first low carbon cement plant

A low carbon cement plant in Redding, Calif. built by startup Fortera

Fortera's first low carbon cement plant in Redding, Calif., next to CalPortland's cement plant. Photo: Courtesy of Fortera

Green cement startup Fortera has opened its first low carbon cement plant in Redding, California.

Why it matters: The facility is a huge step for the startup as it seeks to derisk its tech in a sector that is difficult to decarbonize.

Driving the news: On Friday, Fortera held a grand opening event for the Redding plant, which CEO Ryan Gilliam called "an important milestone."

  • The facility is supposed to start producing green cement the first week in May, and it will grow to make 15,000 tons of cement per year that has a 70% lower carbon footprint while capturing 6,600 tons of CO2.
  • The Redding plant is built next to a cement plant operated by CalPortland, a 132-year-old cement giant. Fortera's tech takes the gas from CalPortland's flue and uses it as a feedstock for its cement.

Catch up quick: San Jose, California-based Fortera told Axios last year that it is pursuing $1 billion in financing to fund an aggressive expansion of building as many as seven commercial plants in the next five years.

  • Each production plant would cost about $150 million and take about three years to build.
  • Temasek and Khosla Ventures led the company's $30 million Series B in 2021.
  • Fortera evolved from an earlier company called Calera, which shuttered in 2014. Gilliam founded Fortera in 2019 with several former Calera employees.

Zoom in: Gilliam said during the opening event that Fortera has "considerably more than seven plants now under MOU [memorandum of understanding] for doing commercial plants."

  • Gilliam said Fortera is planning to build its first full commercial plant that would be 25 times the size of its facility in Redding.

The big picture: The cement industry is a tricky sector to decarbonize, as building and construction companies are naturally risk-averse and slow-moving.

  • Fortera's efforts to work with cement producers, instead of trying to disrupt them, could be a less risky way to navigate the cement sector.
  • Regardless, Fortera's plans are capital-intensive and will require extensive fundraising to implement.

Bottom line: The Redding plant is a major step in an industry that's difficult to clean up.

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