Making carbon neutrality a reality by 2030

Making carbon neutrality a reality by 2030
08 November 2019

This week FLSmidth's released its new sustainability programme, MissionZero, which is offering a number of products and services to help the industry achieve the goal of operating zero emissions cement plants by 2030. To achieve this, further technical breakthroughs and close cooperation with partners, and customers, will be required, but the initiative is part of a wider movement among businesses to place environmental solutions at the heart of their business offerings.

FLSmidth: MissionZero
The Danish EPC contractor has set an ambitious target of enabling its customers to move towards zero emissions in 2030. The company has stated that it can reduce the CO2 emissions per kg of cement by approximately 70 per cent by 2030, using existing pioneering technologies and innovations that are currently in an R&D stage.

Some of the solutions include blending clinker with alternative materials, exploring new types of cement and operating cement plants on 100 per cent alternative fuels – with waste-to-energy a key theme.

The company admits that the challenge will be to close the remaining 30 per cent gap of the industry's CO2 emissions by 2030 if existing technology cannot do this.

An additional area of the MissionZero programme is to reduce water usage to zero in the same time scale. This will entail developing dry-stack tailings (DST), which can recover 95 per cent of process water, claims FLSmidth. Alternative water management systems such as desalination will also be a priority.

FLSmidth aims to use its commitment with the Global Cement and Concrete Research Network of the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) to bring cement and concrete research specialists and scientific institutions together to drive the sustainable solutions it seeks. 

The initiative from FLSmidth mirrors a similar programme by thyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions which launched its #grey2green programme in the summer and aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. ThyssenKrupp’s programme identifies four main areas where a more sustainable cement production process can lower carbon emissions.

The company envisages a green cement plant that can combine a range of solutions to achieve carbon neutrality, including carbon capture and storage, NOx reduction, fuel substitution and the use of activated clay, reducing clinker usage by 50 per cent. Hydrogen plants and renewable energy will provide cleaner energy. And the Oxyfuel process will be designed to enable cement plants to take the next step towards carbon neutrality.

Other notable suppliers to the cement industry that are leading the way in reducing their own climate-neutral programmes include: Siemens,which aims to cut CO2 emissions by 50 per cent from 2015-20, and ABB, which has set the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent between 2013-20. But it is likely that, going forward, more companies will be judged on their performance and targets in this area.

2030 goal
The goal of 2030 will realistically mean that the first green cement plants will have to start appearing in the next five years. Dalmia Cement is looking to build its carbon-neutral facility in Tamil Nadu in the next three years. Cement producers will need to invest heavily in green plant technology and leading multinationals such as HeidelbergCement, which is at the forefront of developing solutions, are targeting carbon-neutral concrete by 2050.

At a plant level there is still a massive amount of work to be carried out, but on a country level the task looks gigantic. Norway has set the bar at 2030 for being a carbon-neutral country, if emission cuts are made by other countries and by 2050, regardless of international emission cuts. However, much of its climate policy will only be achieved through offsetting emissions reductions abroad.

Denmark is committed to 100 per cent renewable energy supply by 2050 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent of 1990 levels by this date. The UK and France also stated this year that they intended to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Clearly, carbon neutrality is something that has to be a priotity now.

Published under Cement News