There has been an increasing global commitment to respond to the undisputable threat of climate change. The adoption of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , ratified by 175 countries, aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
To achieve these ambitious targets, fundamental changes are needed to reduce the CO2 that we emit from industrial processes and energy generation.
Increasing number of cement and lime companies have greatly accelerated their decarbonisation efforts, with corporate commitments to carbon neutrality by 2050.
At the same time, the demand for cement and lime will continue to increase, driven by the long term growth of the global economy and development of many markets across the world. Cement and concrete will remain unique materials when it comes to construction due to their multiple features of local and widespread availability, versatility, affordability, resilience, ability to reduce energy demand in buildings, and can be fully recycled.
Lime is an essential substance used in a variety of applications including in the iron & steel, chemical, paper and pharmaceutical industries. Cement is already one of the most widely used materials on the planet, fulfilling an essential role in providing society’s need for housing and infrastructure.
The cement and lime sectors directly employ more than 384,000 people in Europe, and together with indirect employment around 1.08million jobs - making an important economic contribution to the region, so it is important to find suitable technological solutions to help mitigate the process emissions from these industries. Developed over hundreds of years, cement plants are low cost and are very efficient. Since 1990, significant steps (such as increasing energy efficiency, use of alternative and waste fuels and clinker substitution) have enabled emissions to be reduced by more than 20%.
Despite these steps, 8% of global CO2 emissions are still related to cement and lime production, making it the largest single industrial source of CO2 emissions. This is because, most CO2 emissions are released directly and unavoidably from the processing of the cement and the limestone. These “process emissions” are in addition to the CO2 released from the combustion of fuels used to power the process (representing between 10 to 40% of a plant’s total emissions, depending on the fuel used).
CaCO3 (limestone) + heat ® CaO (lime) + CO2 (carbon dioxide)
However, in order to reach the EU’s target to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2030, and carbon neutral by 2050, carbon capture technologies will need to be applied to the majority of European cement plants to ensure that the CO2 is not released into the atmosphere (see section x regarding means of permanently trapping the captured emissions). LEILAC, as it addresses directly the main issue of CO2 process-related emissions of these two hard to abate sectors, is uniquely placed to support Europe to achieve these targets in a timely, effective and efficient manner.