A silver lining
Deeply stressed as the economy is, with the plummeting value of currency, spiraling fuel costs and the resultant high cost of thermal power generation; pressing need for quality coal and its availability, availability of quality raw materials like limestone, the Indian cement industry is also passing through turbulent times. To cap it all, then, there is the increased pressure of complying with mandatory energy regulations such as Perform, Achieve, Trade (PAT), where a manufacturer must meet energy reduction targets as well as its renewable energy purchase (RPO) obligations.
The cement industry has taken these challenges as growth opportunities to make manufacturing units as green and self-sustainable as possible in terms of power. Thanks to its tireless efforts, the cement industry with an installed capacity of over 250 MT, is probably the most efficient in the world, and has a well-deserved reputation for technology interventions. Most plants have thermal and electrical specific energy consumption comparable to the best in the industry; have state-of-the-art technology, and energy efficient equipment; and there is ample focus on the plant layout design which also contributes to energy savings. There is still scope for reduction in both thermal and electrical energy consumption, for example, use of alternate fuels and raw materials (AFR) is a major potential area for improvement. Present thermal substitution rate (TSR) by use of AFR is in the range of 0.5 to 1 per cent whereas developed countries achieved as high as 40 per cent TSR. But as per the views, the industry is slowly but steadily gearing up to meet challenges.
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