Unlocking data driven net zero transition

From 11-12 July 2023 the Green Cement Conference took place in Athens/Greece. About 120 industry experts from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America followed the invitation to gather under the main theme of “Unlocking data driven net zero transition”.

In his function as host Terry Pavlopoulos, Managing Partner of CemBR, together with his knowledge partner Amr A. Nader, CEO of A3&Co.®, welcomed the participants to this two-day-conference covering the crucial topics with regard to a transformation of the cement industry against the backdrop of the net zero transition. Most of the twelve panels were competently moderated by Amr Nader commencing with “Cement sector challenges & opportunities to 2030”, which emphasized the cement sector’s pivotal role in the global fight against climate change introducing market aspects, technology and financing strategies.

During the second panel “The role of cement in the circular economy” Matthias Mersmann, CTO & Member of the Board at KHD Humboldt Wedag, described the challenges of a circular economy in the cement and concrete industry. While technical solutions beyond the ordinary will be necessary for material (re-) circulations, a full circularity could bring about new business models as well as new players, making cooperations across previous and still existing borders necessary (companies, industries, norms and standards etc.).

Apoorv Sinha, Co-Founder and CEO of Carbon Upcycling, presented the technology developed by Carbon Upcycling that upcycles industrial byproducts and CO2 into  SCMs (Supplementary Cementitious Materials). He emphasized the necessity to find synergies between heavy industries to ensure that industrial byproducts are utilized instead of sending them to landfills.

The Green Built Environment panel aimed to explore sustainable construction, energy-efficient buildings, green infrastructure, and the role of technology in reducing the environmental impact of our cities. “Unlocking concrete-to-concrete circularity” was the presentation held by Thomas Petithuguenin, CEO of C2CA Technology, in which he described various projects of concrete recycling in the Netherlands. C2CA produces fine and coarse recycled aggregates which can be used for 100% in concrete mixtures as well as recycled cement (RCP) which can be used for up to 20% as a component in cement.

The “Carbon tax impact on cement” was discussed to find out the growing importance of carbon taxation policies and their impact on the cement industry, as carbon taxes gained momentum in the global efforts to combat climate change and carbon pricing mechanisms. Followed by “Investment opportunities” arising from the decarbonization journey of the cement industry. The first day ended with a panel dealing with “Waste to energy – Co-processing shaping cement future circularity” exploring its role in shaping the future circularity of the cement industry by adopting co-processing techniques to utilize waste materials as alternative fuels and raw materials.

The second day started by exploring the importance of clean and renewable energy in shaping the future of the cement industry. As sustainability becomes increasingly crucial, transitioning the clean energy sources is imperative for cement manufactures to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Digital Maturity: What it means for cement plant decarbonization?” tried to explore the intersection between digital technologies and cement plant decarbonization efforts. Dr Daniel Summerbell, CSO and Co-Founder of Carbon Re, presented his company’s aim to help energy-intensive
industries cut gigatons of emissions by technologies like Delta Zero Cement, a machine learning-based industrial decarbonization solution that efficiently handles the complex relationships in clinker production and enables significant fuel

During the panel “CCUS: Looking to the future: What do we want as an industry moving forward?” different projects and technologies were presented and discussed: For example, the CCS Roadmap for Greece (Aristofanis Stefatos, CEO of Herema), Heidelberg Materials’ ANRAV CCUS Project in Eastern Europe (Konstantin Bojinov, Project Manager of ANRAV CCUS) as well as LiqCO2 Shipping, the shipping and storage of liquid CO­2 (Maro Varvate, Managing Partner of Net Zero Commercial & Shipping).

Another perspective was covered by the panel “Financing for climate change: Looking through the lens of cement” depicting innovative financing mechanisms to drive sustainable practices and support decarbonization efforts. Financing options for decarbonization as green loans, sustainability linked loans or blended finance were for example presented as well as electricity decarbonization through renewable energy sources (RES).

Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs), such as fly ash, slag, and silica fume, have gained considerable attention for their potential in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the sustainability of cement production. “SCMs a High Impact Net Zero Accelerator” examined the opportunities and challenges associated with SCMs. Dr André Trümer, Sr. Process Engineer in Cement Technology at Loesche GmbH, presented potential cementitious materials and solutions as clay calcining and grinding, concrete recycling and enhanced slag reactivity.

Eoin Condren, Director of Corporate Development of Ecocem, demonstrated that high filler, low water cements and concretes leverage SCMs to provide scalable low carbon cements and can meet all required performance metrics.

“The Net Zero Transition: Adopt – Adapt – Transform” explored the adoption of low-carbon technologies and practices, the adaptation to changing market dynamics and regulations, and the transformative actions necessary to achieve long-term sustainability goals within the cement industry.

Ian Riley, CEO of World Cement Association, who had been co-moderating many panels, pointed out some questions that might arise in the near future. The decreasing clinker demand will change the industry’s structure as well as circularity changes the business model. New technologies such as AI, robotics or 3D printing will change technical requirements and successful strategies.

The panels as well as the following discussions during the conference provided substantial content and were characterized by innovative approaches and a noticeable will to take action. In order to include the entire construction and built environment process, circularity approaches require to cross-sector cooperation and joint efforts to deal with challenges more effectively. |


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