Displaying items by tag: Emissions
Ireland: Quinn Cement Limited has been fined Euro2000 plus costs after the company pleaded guilty to failing to control dust emissions from its plant in Ballyconnell, County Cavan.
Reports of at least three houses and cars in the nearby area being coated in a film of cement dust were made to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after a filter bag failed at the plant on 5 – 8 September 2014. An inspector from the EPA subsequently visited the area and took statements from complainants, including an asthmatic who had raised fears in relation to the health impact the dust might have.
At Cavan District Court on 21 May 2015, the court heard how the plant was shut down while the fault was found and rectified. A number of fail-safes have since been employed at the Ballyconnell plant safeguarding against such an occurrence arising again. Judge McLoughlin convicted and fined Quinn Cement Euro2000 on one count of failure to control dust associated with activity, which resulted in an impairment of or an interference to amenities or the environment beyond the installation boundary, subject to licence. A second count was struck out on the agreement that the company also pay costs incurred by the EPA in carrying out its investigation of Euro5570.
Chile: The Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) has filed charges against the Cemento Polpaico cement company regarding environmental irregularities at the Cerro Blanco plant in Til Til, near Santiago. SMA discovered that the plant failed to comply with carbon emission directives and did not have an adequate contingency plan for the preservation of underground water sources. The company now has ten days to adjust procedures or reply to the charges laid by the entity within 15 days before SMA issues penalties.
China: Beijing, where pollution averaged more than twice China's national standard in 2014, will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants, China Huaneng Group Corp's 845MW plant, in 2016.
Plants owned by Guohua Electric Power Corp and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co were closed in March 2015. A fourth major power plant, owned by China Datang Corp, was shut in 2014. The plants will be replaced by four gas-fired stations with the capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.
The closures are part of a broader trend in China, which is the world's largest CO2 emitter. Beijing plans to cut its coal consumption by 13Mt/yr by 2017 from the 2012 level in a bid to slash pollutants. Shutting all the major coal power plants in the city, reducing coal use by 9.2Mt/yr, is estimated to cut CO2 emissions by 30Mt/yr according to analysts.
China planned to close more than 2000 smaller coal mines in 2013 - 2015, according to Song Yuanming, vice chief of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety. Closing coal-fired power plants is seen as a critical step in addressing pollution in China, which gets about 64% of its primary energy from coal.
Coal use is declining in China as policy makers encourage broader use of hydroelectric power, solar and wind. It is also pushing to restart its nuclear power programme in a bid to clear the skies. China's electricity consumption in 2014 grew at its slowest pace in 16 years, according to data from the China Electricity Council. Its CO2 emissions fell by 2% in 2014, the first decline since 2001, signalling that efforts to control pollution are gaining traction.
India: Most cement plants in India consume less energy and emit less CO2 than their European and American counterparts as they use the latest technology, according to the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI).
An initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), CSI is a 23-member organisation including nine Indian cement companies. CSI members produce 66% of the world's cement and 60% in India. "The member companies from India are more efficient. They emit less CO2 than the companies in Europe and the US. Their energy consumption is also less," said CSI's managing director Philippe Fonta.
The distinction between Indian firms from those in the US and Europe is technology. Indian companies use the latest technology since many of the cement plants are relatively new. Besides India's UltraTech Cement and Dalmia Bharat, seven global companies with operations in India like Holcim's ACC and Ambuja Cement, Lafarge, HeidelbergCement, Zuari Cement are among members of CSI. Fonta said that Indian companies could improve if they lay more emphasis on alternative fuels and energy and make use of municipal waste. The 360Mt/yr Indian cement industry meets just 0.6% of its energy needs with alternative fuels, but this is expected to go up to 5% cent by 2020.
Tanzania: The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has indefinitely closed down Tanzania Portland Cement Company (TPCC, Twiga) over environmental pollution.
NEMC senior legal officer Heche Suguta said that the plant was also required to pay US$26,944 in penalties. He said that the NEMC had established that the plant was discharging a huge amount of dust, which was bad for the environment and the people surrounding the plant. "We have several times asked the plant management to work out this shortcoming, but they have not taken any steps to mitigate the problem," said Suguta.
Twiga manufactures almost half of the cement produced by the three major plants in the county and its closure is likely to spark the fear of a sharp rise in cement prices. According to 2013 statistics, Twiga produces 1.4Mt/yr of cement out of the 3Mt/yr the country can produce. The remaining 1.6Mt/yr is shared among Mbeya Cement Company and Tanga Cement Company.
Suguta said that, previously, Twiga had four chimneys to emit pollutants, but three broke down and the plant was using only one out-dated chimney, which was overwhelmed. "The plant will be allowed to resume operations only after sorting out the problem by controlling dust," said Suguta. He said that the NEMC had been receiving complaints from residents surrounding the area that the dust from the plant was causing headaches and respiratory problems. "If they disobey this order, we will arrest their managing director and other stern legal action would follow."
Twiga's managing director and area manager for East Africa, Alfonso Rodriguez, said that the dust was coming from an old plant after the filter of the new plant got a technical fault. He said that they had ordered a new filter, which might take a month to arrive in the country.
One highlight from the cement industry news over the last month was Skyonic's announcement that it has opened a commercial-scale carbon capture unit at the Capitol Aggregates cement plant in Texas, US. Details were light, but the press release promised that the unit was expected to generate US$48m/yr in revenue for an outlay of US$125m. Potentially, the implications for the process are profound, so it is worth considering some of the issues here.
Firstly, it is unclear from the public information released whether the process will actually make a profit. The revenue figures for the Skyonic unit are predictions and are dependent on the markets that the products (sodium biocarbonate, hydrogen and chlorine) will be sold into. Skyonic CEO and founder, Joe Jones, has said in interview that the sodium-based product market by itself could only support 200 - 250 plants worldwide using this process. Worldwide there are over 2000 integrated cement plants. Since Jones is selling his technology his market prediction might well be optimistic. It is also uncertain how existing sodium biocarbonate producers will react to this new source of competition.
Secondly, Skyonic is hoping to push the cost of carbon capture down to US$20/t. Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and transportation varies between industries depending on the purity and concentration of the by-product. For example, in 2011 the US Energy Information Administration estimated the cost for CO2 capture to range from US$36.10/t for coal and biomass-to-liquids conversion up to US$81.08/t for cement plants. The difference being that capturing CO2 from cement plant flue gas emissions requires more cleaning or scrubbing of other unwanted chemicals such as mercury.
With these limitations in mind, Skyonic is placing itself in competition with the existing flue gas scrubbing market rather than the carbon capture market, since the level of CO2 removal can be scaled to local legislation. Plus, SOx, NO2, mercury and other heavy metals can be removed in the process.
Back on carbon capture, Skyonic is securing finance for a process it calls Skycycle, which will produce calcium-based products from CO2, with a pilot plant planned at Capitol Aggregates for late 2015. This puts Skyonic back amongst several other pilot projects that are running around the world.
Taiwan Cement and the Industrial Technology Research Institute inaugurated their calcium looping project pilot in mid-2013. It was last reported to have a CO2 capture rate of 1t/hr.
The Norcem cement plant in Brevik, Norway started in early 2014 to test and compare four different types of post-combustion carbon capture technologies at its pilot unit. These are Aker Solutions Amine Technology, RTI Solid Sorbent Technology, DNV GL/ NTNU/ Yodfat Engineers Membrane Technology and Alstom Power Regenerative Calcium Cycle. The project in conjunction with HeidelbergCement and the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) is scheduled to run until 2017.
St Marys Cement in St Marys, Canada started its bioreactor pilot project in July 2014. This process uses flue gas to grow algae that can then be used for bio-oil, food, fertiliser and sewage treatment.
If Skyonic is correct then its sodium biocarbonate process in Texas is a strong step towards cutting CO2 emissions in the cement industry. Unfortunately, it looks like it can only be a step since the market won't support large-scale adoption of this technology. Other pilots are in progress but they are unlikely to gather momentum until legislation forces cement producers to adopt these technologies or someone devises a method that pays for the capture cost.
US: Skyonic has opened its first commercial-scale CO2 capture and utilisation facility, at the Capitol Aggregates cement plant in San Antonio, Texas. The US$125m Capitol SkyMine will have a total CO2 mitigation impact of 300,000t/yr, through the direct capture of 75,000t of CO2 and transformation into sodium bicarbonate, bleach and hydrochloric acid. The unit is expected to generate around US$48m/yr in revenue and US$28m/yr in annual earnings.
"The Capitol SkyMine facility is the first step in our vision to mitigate the effects of industrial pollution and close the carbon cycle," said Joe Jones, founder and CEO of Skyonic. The SkyMine process allows up to 90% of CO2 emissions from flue gas to be captured and transformed into solid products that can then be sold.
Russia: Eurocement has allocated Euro6.2m for the implementation of a new dedusting system at the Katavsky Cement plant in Chelyabinsk. The launch of the system, which was made by the Czech manufacturer ZVVZ, will reduce dust emissions by 33%.
Industrial energy consumers in Romania have succeeded in extracting concessions from the government's green certificates scheme this week. Cement producers, including Lafarge, Holcim and local HeidelbergCement subsidiary CarpatCement Holding, will benefit now from a 10-year facility to acquire the certificates and they will be allowed to buy up to 85% fewer certificates than at present.
The Romanian government reckons the change will save industry Euro750m. It will be good news for the cement producers and aluminium producer Alro Slatina, one of the chief lobbyists for the change which paid Euro39m for the certificates in 2013, reported losses of Euro17m and threatened production closures.
The debacle strikes a chord with other government-led attempts to nudge society towards lower-carbon emitting energy sources. First a national or international scheme offers economic incentives toward some sort of carbon reduction. Then major industrial users either complain that the system 'unfairly' penalises them or they find a way to play the system. The latest example of the adjustments in Romania is an example of the former, as is the current Australian government's intention to remove its carbon tax. Multinational companies surrendering carbon offsets into the European Union's (EU) emissions trading scheme (ETS) is an example of the latter.
In defence of government-industry negotiation, the EU ETS is now in its third phase of trying to make the scheme work as the EU tries to reach its target of a 20% cut in emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020. In late 2013 environmental group Sandbag accused the target of containing a loophole that allows for a much smaller cut in emissions due to a slack in carbon budgets, of potentially 2% of 1990 levels. However, the EU confirmed in early June 2014 that it is on track to beat its target and cut down total emissions by 24.5% by 2020.
Alongside all of this arguing, overall energy costs have steadily risen over the last decade, as have the rates of co-processing at European cement plants. As a secondary major fuels consumer, behind energy generation and transportation, the cement industry is particularly susceptible to energy prices being jolted around behind various market trends, such as increases in natural gas supply in the US market. In effect the cement industry hops between different 'next best' options, after the leading energy consumers have taken the premium fuels. The interplay between legislators and heavy industry over carbon taxes prompts the following question: what encourages cement producers more to move to reduce their carbon emissions – legislation or fuel prices?
In other news this week, the chief executive of African producer Bamburi Cement, Hussein Mansi, has announced his plans to move on to Lafarge Egypt. In his memo to staff he mentioned, '...five very interesting years leading the Kenya – Uganda business.' Telling words perhaps given the Kenyan government's attention on Bamburi Cement and the East Africa Portland Cement Company, a producer minority-owned by Lafarge. Of course Mansi may discover that 'interesting' is relative in Egypt, a country on the other side of the energy subsidy spectrum to Europe and its carbon taxes.
Romania: Industrial energy consumers in Romania will gain a 10-year facility for green certificate acquisition, which will save them approximately Euro750m, the government has decided. About 300 large industrial companies in Romania, including Lafarge, Holcim and CarpatCement Holding, that will benefit from this measure, as they will be allowed to buy up to 85% less green certificates than they currently have to buy. The ratios are established on the rate of energy costs in their total production costs.
However, the adjustment to the green certificate scheme will add 1% to the energy costs for other consumers, who will have to buy more green certificates to support the existing subsidy scheme for green energy producers. The general population and smaller Romanian firms will see increases in electricity bills.
The support scheme will be applied from 1 August 2014 and it will also be notified to the European Commission.