Company and analysts see the twin benefit of reducing carbon footprint and also costs.

Carbon emissions from the cement industry is a serious debate today. Companies are trying to do their bit to ensure that the concept of sustainability is not just a word but one that becomes the way to do business.   

Neeraj Akhoury, CEO (India) Holcim & MD, Ambuja Cements, says his companies have built their sustainable development ambitions on global standards. “They are aligned with Holcim’s sustainability strategy. Both these organisations have taken several CO2 reduction measures such as clinker factor reduction, thermal substitution rate, thermal and electrical energy efficiency, renewable energy and adoption of new technologies,” he explains.  

A key part of this is the waste heat recovery system (commonly known as WHRS), now a big area of focus for the industry. Here, the waste heat is captured from the process and is back in the system as an alternative energy source or plain electricity. For the two companies, this has been installed across six sites and “will aid in reducing 5.61 lakh tons of CO2 emissions each year.”

To Akhoury, WHRS has become an integral part of the sustainability story. Not only does it smartly trap the heat generated but helps reduce the use of fossil fuels. “In addition to boosting efficiency, it is a proven method for reducing CO2 emissions, and part of helping reach Holcim’s ambition to reduce emissions due to electricity use by 65 per cent by 2030,” he explains. The outgo for the green power generation initiative will be Rs 780 crore. “All of these projects are expected to be completed over the next 12-14 months.”

According to Rashesh Shah, AVP, ICICI Securities, reducing carbon emission for cement companies will remain the key focus over the next decade. “That accounts for over 7 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Much of carbon footprint is linked to clinker produced in the kilns at temperature of over 1400 degree celsius,” he says.

Without a doubt, this is a long journey but the opportunity to make a difference is large. “There is scope for creating a more sustainable construction sector is and the use of environment friendly-building materials is one important part of it,” points out Akhoury. 

Meanwhile, Shah is clear that a waste heat recovery system and a solar power plant will play a critical role in driving the de-carbonisation agenda for all major cement companies including the Holcim group. “In the era of rising fuel prices, a focus on green power will not only help in conserving the environment but also help cement companies in reducing their expenses on power substantially. If thermal power cost is Rs 4 per unit, waste heat recovery can bring it down significantly to Rs 0.5-1 per unit,” he sums up.

Disclaimer: This article was first published in Business Today.

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