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Federal Minister of Economics visits Holcim’s Lägerdorf plant

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Cement,

On 24 August, Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) visited the Holcim cement plant in Lägerdorf together with Mark Helfrich, member of the Bundestag for the Schleswig-Holstein parliamentary constituency Steinburg - Dithmarschen Süd. Here, he met Thorsten Hahn, Managing Director of the Holcim Germany Group and Plant Manager Torsten Krohn, among others. The focus of the exchange was on the topic of decarbonisation of the cement industry and Holcim's vision of building Germany's first climate-neutral cement plant at the Lägerdorf site.

The company representatives described to the visitors how the vision should become a reality, directly on site – according to today's planning, it should take shape as early as 2027. To this end, Holcim is working with other partners in the ‘West Coast 100’ (real-world laboratory for the energy transition) and ‘HyScale100’ (Important Project of Common European Interest, IPCEI) project to develop a hydrogen economy in Schleswig-Holstein. The project partners of HyScale100, Orsted, Hynamics and Raffinerie Heide, were also represented by their managing directors at the ministerial visit.

As part of the project, green hydrogen is to be produced from offshore wind energy. The oxygen that is not used in electrolysis alongside the coveted hydrogen is to be used in the cement works to fire the furnace. This creates high-purity CO2 in the combustion process, which is unavoidable in cement production. Separated in the burning process, the CO2 can be used for the production of methanol thanks to its high degree of purity. Methanol, in turn, is a high-quality substitute for crude oil and can be processed for the plastics industry or as a fuel. The CO2 from the cement works becomes a raw material, and the plant works in a climate-neutral manner.

This so-called oxyfuel process is already technically feasible. However, the success of industrial decarbonisation depends on the necessary financial and regulatory framework conditions being created both at European and national level. Politicians and company representatives discussed this in Lägerdorf.

Peter Altmaier praised the projects on the west coast as a model example of successful sector coupling and promised the company representatives that the support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs would continue through the appropriate funding instruments and simplifications in the regulatory framework.

Holcim CEO Thorsten Hahn also described how climate-friendly cements are already being made by Holcim today. The focus of the ECOPlanet product series is on replacing cement clinker with substitutes and on optimising concrete formulations. Here too, politics can play a pioneering role, for example by prioritising climate-friendly products in public tenders and changing standards in their favour.

Holcim Managing Director Thorsten Hahn: “We would like to thank the minister and the member of parliament for their visit, during which we found a lot in common. We agree that it must be more economically attractive to avoid a ton of CO2 than to emit one ton of CO2 – for example through higher CO2 pricing. The political framework must ensure equal opportunities: If we invest in climate-friendly solutions, we need the security that our products will not be outdone by more climate-damaging products with lower prices. Because that would not help anyone, least of all the climate. "

Mark Helfrich: “The Holcim Lägerdorf site has a good chance of becoming Germany's first climate-neutral cement plant. It is no coincidence for me that this perspective is being developed in Lägerdorf of all places: The west coast of Schleswig-Holstein is now one of the pioneers in the field of green hydrogen with several model projects. A competence cluster of supraregional importance is emerging here, which needs to be further strengthened. Every new building block is an important contribution to this. In this respect, I expressly welcome Holcim's plans for our region."

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