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Editorial comment

The Mineral Products Association (MPA), the UK trade association for the cement and concrete industry, has produced a roadmap for these sectors to become, not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative by 2050. Cement and concrete producers in the UK already have an impressive decarbonisation record, leading many other sectors by having already cut emissions 53% since 1990, but there’s still more to be done.


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In 2018, CO2 emissions for UK cement and concrete production amounted to 7.3 million t – the MPA’s roadmap seeks to remove this remaining carbon footprint without falling into the trap of ‘carbon leakage’, i.e. offshoring emissions to countries with more lax environmental policies. The roadmap outlines the key technology levers that will allow cement and concrete production to become carbon negative. In brief, they are as follows:

  • Indirect emissions from decarbonised electricity – CO2 reduction: 27.05 kgCO2/t or 4% – Decarbonising the electricity grid will encourage electrification and promote the use of technologies such as plasma energy & CCUS, and other advanced manufacturing techniques.
  • Transport – CO2 reduction: 44.45 kgCO2/t or 7% – New transport fleets, moving away from fossil fuels, and increased use of rail freight.
  • Low carbon cements and concretes – CO2 reduction: 76.28 kgCO2/t or 12% – Continued development and adoption of low-carbon cements and revised building standards.
  • Fuel switching – CO2 reduction: 99.45 kgCO2/t or 16% – Availability of biomass is sufficient to provide 70% of the heat required for cement production. Investment in hydrogen production and delivery networks will support further CO2 savings.
  • CCUS – CO2 reduction: 390.97 kgCO2/t or 61% – The MPA states: “This transformative technology represents the most significant and technically disruptive investment in the roadmap.”
  • Carbonation – CO2 reduction: 12% – By 2050, techniques to optimise carbonation will be used to significantly increase its impact.
  • Thermal mass – CO2 reduction: 44% – The cumulative deployment of concrete’s thermal mass equates to an estimated 14% saving of 2050 UK electricity consumption from avoided heating and cooling. This equates to 44% of 2018 concrete and cement emissions levels.

Collaboration between government and industry will be key in reaching net zero and beyond. In the MPA’s own words, there needs to be “a shared understanding and pathway to net zero, one where policy, financial and infrastructure enablers are coordinated to support the sector’s decarbonisation and to manage a just transition.” There’s a lot of work to be done, but progress is already being made on many of these levers. As always, World Cement will be here to provide you with the latest developments as they happen.

Note
For more information on the MPA’s ‘Roadmap to Beyond Net Zero’, visit: https://bit.ly/3DwNe4f.


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