ACC Limited’s carbon footprint continues to be among the industry’s best. Its CO2 emissions stood at 545 kg/t of cement, which is 32 per cent lesser than the 1990 level, but in comparison to 2015, it was two per cent higher.
S ince 2007, ACC Limited has published the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) report annually with the most recent being the one reviewing the year 2015. This report is compiled on the basis of GRI standards and is in accordance with the “comprehensive” option.
ACC’s sustainability performance refers to all of its operations, namely limestone mines, cement plants and ready-mix concrete (RMC) plants, and all their related processes, excluding office buildings. ACC has excluded five of its subsidiary companies from the ambit of this report, which together have no significant bearing on overall operations. These are Bulk Cement Corporation (India) Ltd, ACC Mineral Resources Ltd, Lucky Minmat Ltd, National Limestone Company Pvt Ltd and Singhania Minerals Pvt Ltd.
Since 2006, ACC has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and thus the company makes public disclosure on adherence to UNGC principles. To that extent, the below-mentioned table and report also serve as a Communication on Progress (COP) required to be disclosed by signatories of the UNGC.
ACC is an active member of the Indian chapter of Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), a global group of 24 major cement producers set up under the World Business Council for Sustainable Development for the pursuit of issues concerning sustainable development in the cement sector.
The low carbon technology roadmap for the Indian cement industry is a voluntary and time-bound commitment drawn up by CSI member companies with time-bound targets for reduction of carbon emissions leading to the year 2050. This roadmap identifies key levers for reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that include inter alia clinker substitution, the use of alternative fuel and resources; thermal and electrical energy efficiency, among others.
Emission reduction targets
In line with the company’s sustainable development target, ACC plans to reduce its net specific carbon dioxide emissions per tonne of cement by 40 per cent as compared to the levels achieved in 1990. This is the base year used for target setting of specific emissions reduction by the company as well as the CSI. In 2016, the company’s carbon footprint continues to be among the industry’s best-in-class where its specific carbon dioxide emissions at 545 kg/tonne of cement (Scope 1) was 32 per cent lesser than 1990 level, but in comparison to 2015, it was two per cent higher. This increase is mainly due to prevailing market conditions for increased demand for OPC and lower capacity utilisation.
Reducing the clinker factor
The production of blended cement lowers the requirement of clinker as some part of clinker is replaced with fly ash or slag at the final grinding stage. Simply put, lower clinker consumption means less limestone is required to be mined, crushed, ground and burnt in cement kilns, which together directly result in lower carbon dioxide emissions. During the year, ACC utilised 3.90 million tonnes (mt) of fly ash, 2.67 mt of slag, 1.10 mt of crushed rock fines, providing sustainable environment-friendly services to the nation.
This contributed to reduction of limestone consumption and associated carbon dioxide emissions. In 2016, ACC experienced higher demand for Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) from some of their markets. As a result, ACC registered a marginal decrease in the share of blended cements in the total product portfolio to 83.5 per cent leading to a corresponding increase in carbon dioxide footprint.
Despite this, ACC’s share of blended cements and overall specific emissions remained well above industry average. With the newly-commissioned Jamul Integrated project and its grinding units in Jamul and Sindri, which will principally manufacture blended cements, the company expects to enhance the overall share of blended cements and thus lower clinker factor leading to lower specific carbon dioxide emissions.
Improving energy efficiency
In 2016, various energy efficiency/conservation initiatives were undertaken by ACC, which enabled lower energy consumption and subsequently contributed to reduce its carbon dioxide footprint on account of thermal and electrical savings.
The cement manufacturing process does not release any ozone depleting substances (ODS) substance into the environment. The use of bio-mass and agricultural wastes also emits carbon dioxide, which is not accounted by protocol in the Scope 1 emissions. Biogenic carbon dioxide emissions thus generated were 51,009 t.
Controlling dust, SOX and NOX
As regulatory frameworks for emissions are undergoing huge reform, Indian cement companies are facing challenges to comply with stringent regulations and emission standards for various types of emissions including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust emissions. Towards this end, ACC endeavours not only to meet these new standards but also strive to improve its performance beyond compliance.
Accordingly, various measures are being implemented across all operations of the company to control stack emissions by upgradation/modification of existing air pollution control equipments or installation of air pollution control equipment. To ensure compliance for fugitive emissions, the company has already installed dust extraction and dust suppression systems. During 2016, ACC had commissioned Hybrid Electrostatic Precipitators (ESP) at Jamul and upgraded Coal Mill Bag House and Cooler ESPs at Gagal.
ACC has also initiated the implementation of nitrogen oxide emission reduction by primary measures (Process optimisation, usage of AFR, fuel split, meal split, etc.) at all plants and secondary measures at few plants (SNCR). Complying with the reporting mandate, online reporting of emissions and effluents for all the plants is done on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) website and with respective State Pollution Control Boards wherever servers are available.
Logistics and transport
Emissions are also generated in logistics and transportation operations, which include primarily carbon dioxide emissions emanating from fuel consumption. This gets addressed by ensuring regular maintenance of vehicles. Second critical emission is dust pollution caused by trucks plying on roads. These vehicles tend to stir up ambient dust on and around the roads. ACC made sure that cement trucks are de-dusted and covered in tarpaulins before they leave cement plants in order to minimise dust pollution. The company also promotes bulk transport of cement, which is not only cost-effective but also environment friendly. Similarly, rail movement is preferred for long distances as a more sustainable mode. RMC is transported in transit mixers, which is proven to be a value-added option that is also particularly a green option.
Exploring RE avenues
The company is exploring other avenues to reduce the cash outflow for purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) against Renewable Power Obligation (RPOs). Scheduling and maximising green power from the captive wind power generation sources contributed considerably on this front. Currently, the company’s renewable energy portfolio consists of 19 MW in the form of wind farms across three States – Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Maharashtra – which together generated 36.51 million units. Additional green power of 1.67 million units was procured through Power Purchase Agreement adding up to total green energy consumption of 38.18 million units, representing an increase of nine per cent over the previous year.
In 2016, ACC invested approximately Rs 112 million on major capex projects for energy conservation, besides continual process of identification and implementation of low cost capex/opex measures.
Some of their plants have been appreciated for their achievements in energy efficiency and conservation. ACC Chanda was adjudged as one of the Excellent Energy Efficient units by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), supported by BEE.