Displaying items by tag: Emissions
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.
US: The rebuilding of Lafarge's Ravena cement plant will move ahead days after the announcement of the Lafarge-Holcim merger. Construction will begin on 11 April 2014.
"We are moving forward with our current plans on the Ravena plant modernisation," said Lafarge US communications director Joelle Lipski-Rockwood. The rebuilding is part of a December 2010 settlement with state and federal officials to dramatically reduce emissions of NOx and SO2 at Lafarge's plants in the state of New York.
Two kilns that date from the 1950s will be replaced by a modern kiln with advanced pollution controls. Pollution at the Ravena plant, which sits across from the local high school, has concerned many local residents for many years. The new plant, which is expected to be running by mid-2017, will emit no more than 26.8kg/yr of mercury. In 2012 the plant emitted 63.5kg of mercury and in 2011 it emitted 64.9kg.
The project was initially due to be completed by the end of 2015, but in 2013 Lafarge received an extension from the state Department of Environmental Conservation in exchange for greater pollution cuts. As part of the emissions agreement, Lafarge also would have spent US$2m to retrain workers if plans to rebuild the plant were shelved and the plant was closed.
Canada: Mantra Energy Alternatives has struck a deal with Lafarge Canada to deploy an electrochemical reduction technology at one of Lafarge cement plants. The technology will convert carbon dioxide emissions into useful chemicals.
"This will be the first pilot plant of its kind in the world," said Mantra's vice president Patrick Dodd. If the system works as advertised it could be deployed at all of Lafarge's facilities.
The technology would convert carbon dioxide into useful chemicals like formic acid and formate salts. The pilot plant would convert 100kg/day of carbon dioxide emitted from the cement plant into concentrated formate salts. Colin Oloman and Hui Li of the Clean Energy Research Centre developed the technology at the University of British Colombia. Mantra Venture Group then purchased it in 2008.
Mantra plans to use the formic acid for use in its patented fuel cells, which it bills as a significantly less expensive fuel cell with greater power density.
Now that the deal between Mantra and Lafarge has been signed, work will begin on the detailed engineering for the plant and the purchase of custom equipment.
US: Cemtrex has announced that it is experiencing an increased level of inquiries relating to its emission monitors from cement companies. Although the technology company has not reported how much its enquiries have risen by, it stands to benefit from the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the Cement Manufacturing Industry that have a compliance deadline date of 9 September 2015.
In a press release Cemtrex detailed monitoring instruments that it sells to measure mercury, hydrogen chloride, particulate matter and total hydrocarbons (THC) that are discharged from cement kiln stacks. Cemtrex estimates that each system will cost approximately US$0.50m and there are about 156 kilns that will be affected by this EPA MACT Rule in the US.
Belgium: Cembureau has issued a joint statement with other members of the Industrial Emissions Alliance declaring its concern for aspects of the upcoming European Commission proposals regarding the Air Policy Review. In particular the European Cement Association (Cembureau) singled out emissions reduction targets and the target year of 2025.
The statement calls for 50% 'gap closure' for emission reductions as it views a proposed rate of 75% as 'unobtainable' due to issues with how emissions reductions will be delivered by current legislation, the costs of going beyond current legislation and the environmental benefits of further measures. It added that the high rate would damage European Union (EU) industrial competiveness and EU jobs. The statement also calls for the target year to be extended to 2030 to align it with the Framework for Climate and Energy Policies dates.
Belgium: CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association, has published a roadmap, the role of cement in the 2050 low carbon economy, detailing how the cement industry could achieve lower carbon emissions.
The project presents five parallel routes that can each contribute to lowering emissions related to cement production, as well as concrete production. These include methods such as resource efficiency, energy efficiency and carbon sequestration and reuse. These methods have been quantified in the roadmap because they are under the cement sector's control. The other two routes, product efficiency and downstream, look at how cement and concrete can contribute to a low carbon society.
"The cement roadmap is a view into the future. It shows us what is possible and where we find limitations. It is a good basis for future work, a good starting point. We need cooperation, not confrontation, but we also need to push each other to find new ideas, new pathways, towards a more sustainable future," said MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz at the launch event on 25 September 2013.
Switzerland: Global cement producers have reduced CO2 emissions by 17% per tonne of cementitious product since 1990. Participating cement producers reduced their specific net CO2 emissions per tonne of cementitious product to 629kg/t in 2011 from 756kg/t in 2011. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)'s Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) has published the data in its 'Getting the Numbers Right' (GNR) database update for 2011.
"GNR has become established as a valuable source of independently-verified emissions data, which is now used globally by the cement industry to improve energy efficiency and further reduce emissions," said Philippe Fonta, WBCSD managing director. The WBCSD added that the GNR figures provide evidence of the gradual decoupling of emissions and cement output, which demonstrates the significant progress made by the cement industry.
According to the data, the four main drivers for the reduction in emissions have been investment in more efficient kiln technology, increasing use of alternative fuels such as biomass, reduction in clinker content and an 8% decrease in electricity use per tonne of cement since 1990.
The 2011 GNR data comprised 55% of cement production outside of China, with 96% coverage in Europe spanning 967 individual facilities. The 2011 report included data from Thailand, Morocco, Philippines and Egypt for the first time.
The Mineral Products Association (MPA), which looks after the interests of the cement industry (and other allied industries) in the UK, has said that it welcomes a temporary tax-freeze relating to climate change announced in the UK Budget of 20 March 2013. The MPA singled out the decision to freeze the indexation of the Aggregates Levy until April 2014 and the decision to introduce the Climate Change Levy mineralogical and metallurgical exemption for energy-intensive industries such as cement and lime. Both of these moves by UK Chancellor George Osborne have been welcomed because they bring some relief to the UK cement industry and wider construction activities. MPA members make money from such activites and any potential cost that can be eliminated or delayed, even for a short time, is welcome amid the current slump that is the UK economy. This is especially true as the UK weathers the one of the longest and most severe winters for 50 years. So far, so much sense.
However, how does this reaction to the Climate Change Levy exemption tie in with the MPA's February 2013 announcement that it thinks that the UK cement industry's total CO2 emissions should be reduced by 81% by 2050? What should UK cement producers make of this? The MPA's cement industry CO2 reduction targets are certainly bold. On the face of it, they look achievable given the progress that has been made to date by the UK cement industry, although much is left to the imagination as to which areas could and should contribute most to the reduction target. The 81% reduction target includes the successful future commercial development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. It also relies on an increased proportion of renewable sources for the electricity that the cement industry will receive in 2050, something else that is totally out of the industry's control.
However, much hard work has already been done by cement companies in the UK. As in other EU countries and developed nations, total dust and toxic emissions have fallen dramatically in the UK cement industry since 1990. The country's alternative fuel substitution rate has now hit ~40%. Yet, as the MPA highlights in its document detailing the targets for 2050, much of the low-hanging fruit has already been taken. Further reduction in overall CO2 emissions will be significantly affected by both regulations and cement company progress. Cement companies can increase their consumption of 'wastes' and fit waste-heat recovery systems. Through such measures they can achieve further reductions in emissions. Some kilns have hit alternative fuel substitution rates of 100% for limited periods and examples from the near continent show that 80% alternative fuels can be the norm. However, unlike these 'bottom-up' approaches, which can be introduced at a plant in a period of months, regulations take years to evolve and come into force, often involving slow and lengthly debate by politicians, associations and consumers.
To discourage the government from seeking to impose stricter environmental regulations for the cement industry by welcoming the exemption, is the MPA undercutting its own calls to reduce CO2 emissions in the UK cement industry? From a cement producer's perspective, it looks like the MPA could hold two contradictory opinions on the same subject: that you can welcome reductions in climate regulation while also calling for stricter emissions regulations. This phenomenon was famously termed 'double think' by George Orwell in his classic novel '1984,' but the MPA's situation is far more subtle. Often the regulators and those being regulated can agree on the same target but not on how that target should be reached. The next 37 years will show whether or not this target is even possible.
US: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a rule called 'National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry and Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants.'
The rule, published in the Federal Register on 12 February 2013 by Lisa P Jackson, US EPA Administrator, states, "On 18 July 2012 the EPA proposed amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry and the Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants. This final action amends the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for the Portland cement industry."
"The EPA is also promulgating amendments with respect to issues on which it granted reconsideration on 17 May 2011. In addition, the EPA is amending the new source performance standard for particulate matter. These amendments promote flexibility, reduce costs, ease compliance and preserve health benefits."
"The amendments also address the remand of the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for the Portland cement industry by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on 9 December 2011. Finally, the EPA is setting the date for compliance with the existing source national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants to be 9 September 2015."