Being carbon smart is our aspiration

Being carbon smart is our aspiration

Sandeep Shrivastava, Head, Environment, Ambuja Cement

Right from mining to production to sales and distribution, across our all our units and disciplines, we have been adopting best practices and working constantly to demonstrate our commitment towards sustainability through our actions. That commitment is reflected in strict adherence to our environment, sustainability, OH&S, CSR, climate change mitigation, green procurement and other policies, as well as initiatives, says Sandeep Shrivastava, Head, Environment, Ambuja Cement. In a free-wheeling chat with ICR, Sandeep throws light on sustainable strategies initiated by the company. Excerpts from the interview.

Tell us about the strategies in place to conserve fossil fuel through AFR?

Ambuja fully realise that scarcity of natural resources is a major concern now and more so in the future. Being a resource intensive industry, we continuously strive to reduce the use of non-renewable resources and consequent C02 emissions. Since the calorific value of wastes has a huge potential to replace substantial amount of fossil fuels in cement production, the company is co-processing many industrial wastes in cement kilns that cannot be practically reused or recycled.

Ambuja co-processed more than 1,00, 000 tonne of waste of which 50 per cent was biomass as alternative fuels (AF) in its cement kilns in the year 2012. Apart from a number of hazardous wastes from other industries, Ambuja is co-processing a number of industrial and non-industrial wastes such as jute waste, blast furnace flue dust, off-specification products as well as plastic wastes.

Ambuja is currently providing waste management solution in an environment-friendly way to several wastes producing companies, under the brand name Geocycle.

Brief us on the thrust given on renewable energy sources?

Cement is considered to be an energy intensive sector with energy costs making up a significant proportion of the total cement production cost. Ambuja Cements very well realises that climate change and energy security are global challenges and we need to adopt sustainable technologies, innovations and processes for the techno-socio-economic development.Renewable energy has been part of our long-term strategy and planning for climate change mitigation as well as energy security. In order to develop the Company's roadmap, three major options are included: wind, solar and biomass.

Could you throw some light on your plans of reducing the carbon footprint through WHR systems?

In order to adopt eco-friendly technologies in our operations, we are setting up a Waste Heat Recovery based Power Plant (WHR) of 6.5 mw at one of our units in Rajasthan, aiming to cover part of the cement plant's electricity needs by this route. The process will effectively utilise waste heat while saving on precious natural resource, with associated environmental benefits. The project will recover the waste heat emanating out from the cement production exhaust gases coming from two pre-heaters and one clinker cooler. We expect to reduce around 40,000 tonne of CO2/annum by WHR which is due for commissioning this year.

Brief us on the high efficiency pollution control equipment used for cement kilns, raw mills, coal mills and power plants.

The company has installed highly efficient pollution control equipments in cement manufacturing facilities. Glass bag houses (GBHs) are provided in raw mills and kiln exits. Highly efficient bag filters (B/F) are provided in coal mills, limestone crushers, cement grinding mills, and packers etc. ESPs are installed in our captive power plants (CPP) and clinker coolers. We have replaced ESPs in cement grinding mills with efficient bag filters.

Continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) have been installed at all our kilns. This is together with continuous ambient air quality monitoring systems (CAAQMS) at all the plants for proper monitoring of all vital pollution parameters on real time basis. The company ensured availability of the CEMS above 95 per cent round the year.

What are the steps initiated to reduce water consumption in your plants?

We have taken several steps to reduce water consumption in ACL plants such as:

  • Dry process technology for manufacturing cement.
  • Replacement of water cooled condensers with air cooled condensers.
  • Reducing water consumption in colonies by way of raising awareness, arresting leakages, using water efficient fixtures, etc.
  • 100 per cent recycling of cooling water and sewage.
  • Using RO reject water and treated water from ETP/STP for suitable uses (dust suppression, gardening).
  • Water harvesting in plant and mine pits.
  • GF bag house installed at kiln stack in place of ESP.
  • Water audit for identifying measures for increasing our water positive action.

In fact, we have done a systematic accounting of our water footprint for water consumption in processes, colony and offices as well as water reuse/ recycle and ground water recharge through our abandoned mine pits and more significantly from the structures set up over the years in community such as check dams, percolation wells, spread channels, etc. It has been found out that we recharge over 200 per cent of as much water as we use for our various purposes. This is certified by an external party. We thus have become first such Indian cement company which is externally certified. Waterless clinkerisation should become a reality for Ambuja in the near future.

What is the environmental spend of Ambuja Cement?

It is difficult to provide one general figure as it varies from time to time. However, environment spent is primarily comprises of the following:

Pollution control equipment - Erection and maintenance of glass bag house filters, electrostatic precipitators, ETP and STP, etc.

Monitoring- All our kilns are equipped with state-of-the-art online continuous emission monitoring system for a host of parameters. Continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations are provided to monitor the ambient air quality. A considerable amount of expenditure is made towards their procurement and maintenance.

Laboratories - All our integrated units are equipped with modern environment and AFR laboratories.

Audits and Assessment - As a part of our environment commitment, we conduct many third party audits related to emissions monitoring, plant environment performance, environment management certifications/assessments, etc.

How green is Ambuja Cement's operation, from mining to production and despatch of cement?

The company has been adopting best manufacturing practices optimising energy, natural resources and technology, etc. We ensure a varied and holistic perspective the way we manage our operations. Right from mining to production to sales and distribution, across our all our units and disciplines, we have been adopting best practices and working constantly to demonstrate our commitment towards sustainability through our actions. That commitment is reflected in strict adherence to our environment, sustainability, OH&S, CSR, climate change mitigation, green procurement and other policies as well as initiatives.

What do you see as the advantages of the PAT Scheme?

The PAT scheme is focused on improving the energy efficiency in Indian industries. The cement industry is regarded as one of the most energy-efficient industry and this scheme further provides an opportunity to better the efficiency levels achieved. We are addressing the PAT targets through a serious of initiatives in our various plants which also include implementation of ISO 50001:2011 to ensure a structured and systematic approach to energy efficiency initiatives and continual improvement.

How do you assess the challenges on the logistics front?

Availability of adequate logistics infrastructure is just as critical for future success as building cement plants. Implementation of the ambitious plans for public road and highway construction, expansion of rail networks and rolling stock, port improvements, etc. will be vital to ensure cost-efficient as well as safe movement of materials between cement plants, customers and suppliers. Shortage of rail wagons is a common problem, causing bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Ambuja has taken steps to address this problem by investing in several projects to improve its own logistics infrastructure, in particular rail connectivity at plant locations. We have been the pioneers in bulk cement transportation through sea route and have continued to keep our focus on increased transportation of cement through rail and sea mode as compared to road. Our new bulk cement terminal [BCT] at Mangalore has got operational in 2013. This is in addition to four existing BCTs at Panvel, Surat, Muldwarka and Kochi.

Where does the company see itself five years down the line?

Currently we are monitoring and reporting GHG emissions as per the WBCSD CSI Protocol. With our constant efforts in 2012, we have been able to reduce carbon intensity of our production by over 25 per cent compared to 1990 levels (for direct emissions).

Our ultimate aim is to achieve further reduction in our carbon intensity by over 15 per cent by 2020. With our commitment to low carbon growth and strong focus on efficiency, we are confident that we shall be able to achieve this target.

Will there be a shift towards the production of more and more blended cements than OPC, and also reintroducing masonry cements?

We have encouraged the use of PPC as our major product. While the industry average for PPC production hovers around 60 per cent, we maintain that in excess of 90 per cent. We have continued to focus on production of fly ash based PPC with an average blending ratio of approximately 1.48. This has two- pronged benefits of effective utilisation of fly ash: a waste from power plants and at the same time conservation of raw material as a natural resource.

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