The European Cement Association, CEMBUREAU, the representative organisation of the cement industry in Europe and spokesperson for the cement industry before the EU institutions and other public authorities, recently published its Carbon Neutrality Roadmap. The Roadmap sets out the cement industry’s ambition to reach net zero emissions along the cement and concrete value chain by 2050. By 2030, CEMBUREAU aspires to be in line with the Paris Agreement’s two degrees scenario, reducing CO2 emissions by 30% for cement and 40% down the value chain.
The European Green Deal explicitly recognises the cement sector as an essential industry for the EU economy. Cement and concrete are indeed vital construction materials for renewable energy infrastructure, low-carbon transportation systems, and sustainable buildings. They play a central role in achieving a carbon neutral and climate-resilient society.
Previous roadmaps from CEMBUREAU
The European cement industry has actively worked on reducing emissions for a long time. Since 1990, it has reduced its CO2 relative emissions by about 15%. CEMBUREAU elaborated a Roadmap in 2013 setting an 80% CO2 reduction target for 2050. The Roadmap was complemented in 2018 by the “5C approach” that promotes a collaborative approach along the clinker-cement-concrete-construction-carbonation value chain involving all actors to help turn the low carbon vision into reality.
The Roadmap looks at how CO2 emissions can be reduced by acting at each stage of the value chain to achieve zero net emissions by 2050. It quantifies the role of each technology in providing CO2 emissions savings, making concrete political and technical recommendations to support this objective.
To elaborate the roadmap, experts from the European cement industry looked in detail at the role of key technologies in reducing emissions at each stage of the cement and concrete value chain. CO2 emissions can indeed be reduced by acting at each stage of the value chain – clinker, cement, concrete, construction and (re)carbonation – to achieve zero net emissions by 2050. This will require the deployment of existing and new technologies. These include for instance the use of non-recyclable waste and biomass waste to replace fossil fuels; more energy-efficient kilns; the development of innovative low-clinker cements; the deployment of breakthrough carbon capture and storage/use technologies (CCUS); and optimised concrete mixes and building techniques. The Carbon Neutrality Roadmap looks in detail at the role of these technologies in reducing emissions at each stage of the cement and concrete value chain.
The following diagram shows the CO2 reductions along the cement value chain.
Decisive Political Action Needed in Key Areas
CEMBUREAU’s carbon neutrality roadmap demonstrates that reaching net zero emissions along the cement and concrete value chain is achievable by 2050. To deliver this, the industry will need decisive political action in key areas:
- Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) will account for 42% of the CO2emissions reduction in the sector. The EU should urgently look at developing a pan-European CO2 transportation and storage network, provide continued funding to demonstrators and support the business case of the technology through State Aid.
- The replacement of fossil fuels by non-recyclable and biomass waste, and the use of alternative raw materials, will deliver another 15% of the emissions reduction in the cement industry. Policies should support this circular approach by facilitating waste shipment between EU countries, and discouraging both landfill and exports of waste outside of the EU.
- Bringing low carbon-cements products to the market will deliver an additional 13% emissions reduction. Upcoming policies should aim to reduce European building’s CO2 footprint, be based on a life-cycle approach, and incentivise the market uptake of low-carbon products.
- A level playing field on carbon, regulatory certainty as well as an ambitious industrial transformation agenda, will be pivotal to deliver the investments needed to achieve carbon neutrality.
EEIP contributes to the roadmap by being project partner of EU funded project RETROFEED and Secil representing the cement sector. Its main objective is to enable the use of an increasingly variable, bio-based and circular feedstock in process industries through the retrofitting of core equipment and the implementation of an advanced monitoring and control system, and providing support to the plant operators by means of a DSS – Decision Support System – covering the production chain.
About Rod Janssen
Rod Janssen is the President of Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes (EEIP). Rod is also member of various Steering Groups and boards such the ICP Europe Steering Group, the SEIF advisory board and the board of ECEEE.