Clean and green

Clean and green

The Indian cement industry is probably one of the most energy efficient in the world today. Some of the plants have thermal and electrical specific energy consumptions (SECs) comparable to the best cement plants in the world resulting in low emission intensities. The industry which is on the top in the Certified Emission Reductions Projects list registered with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol has contributed significantly to the eco-friendly use of industrial wastes and thereby has succeeded in reducing its carbon footprint. However, the opportunity for improvement does exist, particularly in the area of five key levers that can contribute to emission reductions such as alternative fuel and raw materials; energy efficiency; clinker substitution; waste heat recovery and newer technologies. In the recent Union Budget, clean cess on coal had been doubled to Rs 200 per tonne to raise Rs 13,118 crore in 2015-16. This move highlights the Government´s commitment to tackle climate ahead of the Paris UN conference on climate change later this year.

Technological improvement is a key pillar in the cement industry´s drive to reduce emission levels and energy consumption. Research and development investments have enabled cement producers worldwide to install modern, energy-efficient technology in new, and to some extent, in existing, cement plants. New technologies have enabled increased use of clinker substitutes and alternative fuels in cement production, leading to significant direct (eg, from limestone decarbonisation and fuel burning) CO2 emission reductions. Technology developments have also enabled significant indirect emission reductions (eg, from electricity use). Older cement plants have to invest heavily for technological up gradation.

Key levers to reduce emission in the Indian cement industry are increased rates of blending leading to a reduction in clinker to cement ratio, increased use of AFR, widespread implementation of WHR, transportation of raw materials through conveyor belt instead of road transport, installation of various VFD/high energy efficient equipment to reduce SPC. Cement manufacturing process from surface mining/quarrying, locating main clinkerisation unit near limestone deposits, transporting clinker through rail, transporting fly ash through pipeline are few measures which will help in achieving and sustaining this targets. The cement industry has shown great enthusiasm for installation of waste heat recovery system but we still have way to go for achieving its full potential.

Today, the focus has gradually shifted towards renewable energy, WHR, and blended cement which also help in reducing CO2 generation. The industry is also working on reduction of SOx and NOx, which are also adverse to the environment. For this purpose, cement manufacturers are setting up different types of calciners like two-stage calciners where NOx generation is reduced. In the next 3-4 years, the cement industry will witness some drastic changes. This roadmap sets out a pathway by which the Indian cement industry can reach its targets to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions by 2050, thereby laying the foundation for low-carbon growth in the years beyond.

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