Сement industry decarbonization prospects

Сement industry decarbonization prospects

Cement is a key component of concrete, the world’s second most consumed material, and it is widely used in modern infrastructure. Cement production is also one of the largest industries producing CO2 emissions, causing an increasing environmental pressure as more countries declared their goals to reduce CO2 emissions. 

“Green” cement is a form of cement produced with the help of a “carbon-negative manufacturing process.” Therefore emissions during unit operations (like clinker production) are minimized.

IHS Markit recent research shows that, from all available options of cement industry decarbonization, Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is by far the solution with the highest mitigation of industry activity. The reason is that CCUS technology significantly and directly reduces CO2 from the calcination process. However, adding CCUS to cement production currently doubles the cost of cement; hence, a wide range of capture technologies are being tested globally. 

Currently, 56% of the CCUS projects in the world cement industry are in  Europe. The United States (34%) and Canada (6%) follow the lead, as IHS Markit reports. Overall, European players are leading 73% of the CCUS projects for the industry globally.
In fact, the European emissions trading system (EU-ETS) will start the phase-out of free allowances in 2026 through 2030, which will represent a significant cost for cement manufacturers going forward. However, if decarbonization solutions are in place, producers could significantly reduce the emission cost of their operation.
An analysis from IHS Markit shows that the investment in capture technologies such as oxy-fuel combustion, calcium looping and amine scrubbing in Europe could offset the emission costs from EU-ETS beyond 2035, which could be a significant incentive for cement manufacturers to implement decarbonization technologies such as CCUS in their operations.

There is no doubt that more effort is needed to decarbonize the cement industry, and although Europe seems to be moving in the right direction, the region only accounts for 4% of the global cement production. However, to expect a significant change, China – the main cement producer globally with more than 50% of the global cement production- will have to introduce the appropriate measures to accelerate the decarbonization of the Chinese cement industry. 

Ukrainian cement industry overview
Before the beginning of the russian full-scale invasion, Ukraine fully covered domestic cement demand and had a sufficiently powerful cement industry. In Ukraine, there are sufficient explored reserves of minerals used in the production of cement, namely chalk, clay, limestone, kaolin in the Kharkiv, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Khmelnytskyi, Mykolaiv regions. 

The members of the Association of Cement Producers of Ukraine “Ukrcement” produced in 2021 record 11,006 thousand tons of cement and 8,114 thousand tons of cement clinker – a semi-finished product used in the production of cement. 

In order to achieve the goals of climate neutrality (construction of ‘green’ generation facilities) and post-war reconstruction (critical infrastructure), cement production in Ukraine is expected to increase.
After the end of the war, the cement industry can become one of the leaders in attracting foreign investment from both new companies and existing foreign investors. Since FDI is a driver of innovation, Ukraine has all the conditions to become a platform for the implementation of new “green cement” technologies.

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