Challenges to Decarbonized Cement Production

As cement production growth shifts from the developed world…

As cement production growth shifts from the developed world to more developing nations, related emissions have risen rapidly. Industry emissions have more than doubled between 2001 and 2021 and are responsible for more than 7% of today’s global carbon dioxide (CO2) output. While China currently produces ~58% of the globe’s cement, its dominance is expected to decline, as overall demand will remain steady in India, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. For manufacturers, this means that these countries will face a critical question: how can they meet this sustained demand while reducing the industry’s emissions?

This is the first of two blog posts focusing on cement production CO2 and the actions companies can take to boost their sustainability.

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While any producer faces this operational challenge, those in less-mature markets are more likely to depend on coal-generated power, often putting them at the higher end of the global average for carbon intensity. A more significant contributor is the end product’s clinker-to-cement ratio, as clinker production can comprise up to 80% of a facility’s emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, this figure has been rising an estimated 1.6% yearly, hitting 0.72 in 2020.

Bringing related CO2 emissions under control has global implications, but individual cement plants also face risks from climate change, making it even more critical to move to cleaner energy, including:

  1. Environmental risks resulting from increasingly severe extreme weather events.
  2. Government policy risks as authorities introduce more aggressive carbon-reduction targets and mechanisms.
  3. Income and competitiveness loss as cement industry customers seek lower-carbon products to meet their sustainability targets.
  4. Higher costs are related to increased fuel-market volatility, including a rapid rise in coal prices since 2020 or the overall energy market inflation.

These risks are a daily priority for facility owners, and balancing the drive to decarbonize while maintaining safe and efficient operations is an ongoing challenge.

Many manufacturers are already moving toward the reduced emissions goal, though it can be a slow and expensive process. In our next post, we will cover how Schneider Electric, together with its software brands like AVEVA and in close partnership with international energy suppliers, is working with manufacturers to bring new solutions for the cost-effective decarbonization of cement production towards green cement in developing countries.

You also can learn more about these efforts by downloading our infographic and visiting EcoStruxure for Mining, Minerals, and Metal to explore ways Schneider Electric can partner with your company for greener cement-production operations.


Tags: cement decarbonization, cement production, CO2 emissions, Decarbonize, EcoStruxure for Mining

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