A cement plant and a cherry blossom tree

Energy and climate protection

Sustainability is an integral part of Heidelberg Materials and will be at the center of our strategy going forward.

Our focus is on climate protection: as an energy-intensive company, we have been making a substantial effort to minimise our CO₂ emissions for many years now. From 1990 to 2021, we reduced our specific net CO₂ emissions by 25% to 565 kg CO₂ per tonne of cementitious material.

Within the framework of our Beyond 2020 strategy, we are significantly advancing our ambitious climate targets. In May 2022, we have again substantially tightened our emission reduction target: By 2030, we want to reduce specific net CO₂ emissions to 400 kg/t of cementitious material. Compared with the base year 1990, this corresponds to a reduction of almost 50%.

By 2050 at the latest, we want to be carbon neutral across our entire product portfolio and achieve Net Zero emissions.

Reduce & Reuse: Two key levers to reach Net Zero

A considerable proportion of emissions from the process of cement manufacturing is unavoidable, which significantly contributes to the footprint of the end product concrete. Besides the measures already mentioned, we must therefore develop new technologies that enable CO2 savings on a large scale: by investing in different carbon capture technologies, we aim to trap CO2 in its purest form to either utilise or safely store it.

Cement and concrete companies can support the circular economy through resource efficiency, co-processing of waste materials and concrete recycling, including its forced carbonation. We test a variety of materials for CO2 absorption and explore the possibility of using them to produce marketable building materials. Among them are natural minerals like olivine and basalt, industrial waste products such as blast furnace slag, and cement fines made from recycled concrete.

Further information about our innovations and initiatives regarding the reduction of CO2 emissions can be found in our sustainability report.

Sustainability Report

New technologies for capturing and using CO₂

Heidelberg Materials takes a leading role when it comes to climate protection research projects and invests in particular in studies into innovative techniques for the capture and utilisation of CO₂.

Carbon Capture Technologies

Carbon Capture Technologies

Research projects investigating carbon capture

The EU-funded LEILAC (Low Emissions Intensity Lime And Cement) project, in which Heidelberg Materials is one of the strategic partners, started in January 2016. This project aims to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of a process technology designed to capture CO₂ in its purest form when it is released as the raw material is heated. The first promising results were published at the start of December 2019, and further trials will take place in 2020. In spring 2020, a decision was made to scale up the LEILAC technology to an industrial scale.

Read more at leilac.com

To further develop the oxyfuel technology, Heidelberg Materials also participates in the AC2OCEM project, which aims to drive forward the use of technologies for the capture of CO₂ in the cement industry and is co-financed by the ACT (Accelerating CCS Technologies) European development programme. In the oxyfuel process, the rotary kiln is supplied with pure oxygen instead of ambient air, which facilitates the capture of CO₂. As part of the AC2OCEM project, the first-generation oxyfuel technology, which aims to modify existing kiln lines, and the second-generation oxyfuel technology for use in new systems will be investigated.

Read more at ac2ocem.eu-projects.de

Besides AC2OCEM, HeidelbergCement launched the catch4climate research project with three other European cement manufacturers. This project investigates the practical applicability of oxyfuel technology to the cement manufacturing process.

Read more at www.catch4climate.com

Use of CO₂ in algae cultivation

In cooperation with our Dutch partner OmegaGreen, Heidelberg Materials launched a large-scale research and demonstration project in 2018 to use CO₂ from the cement kiln to produce microalgae at our Safi cement plant in Morocco. The algae produced in this way can be used as a high-quality animal feed additive.

Aerial view of a cultivated area with various plants

Microalgae Project Safi

Current research projects investigating carbon sequestration and utilisation

In 2017, Heidelberg Materials launched the CO2MIN project in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany. This project aims to investigate the potential of natural minerals for absorbing CO₂ and the possibility of using them to produce marketable building materials. The three-year research and development programme has now been extended by a further year to the end of 2020.

Long-term storage of CO₂

Brevik, Norway

Since 2011, a project for the capture and storage of CO₂ (CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage) in the cement industry has been running at the Heidelberg Materials subsidiary Norcem in Brevik, Norway. The Norwegian government is expected to make a decision in October 2020 regarding financial support for implementing this project, which will involve the capture of 400,000 tonnes of CO₂ a year. According to the planned schedule, the CO₂ emissions captured as part of the project will be transported to an underground storage site below the North Sea from 2024. 

Edmonton/Alberta, Canada

At the Heidelberg Materials plant in Edmonton/Alberta, Canada, the organization Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is providing 1.4 million Canadian dollars for a feasibility study for an industrial-scale project for the capture and storage of CO₂ (CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage). The study comprises technical designs, cost estimates, and a comprehensive profitability analysis. In the next step, detailed FEED studies will be carried out.

CCS Slite, Sweden

In our Slite plant on the Swedish island of Gotland, the world’s first climate-neutral cement plant is to be developed until 2030. The installation at the Slite plant will be scaled to capture up to 1.8 million tonnes of CO₂ annually, which corresponds to the plant’s total emissions. Additionally, the use of bio-based fuels in the cement production at Slite will be increased. A feasibility study is currently addressing questions of technology selection, environmental impact, legal aspects, financing, logistics and energy supply. According to the plans, the captured CO₂ is to be transported to a permanent storage site under the North Sea.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Alternative Raw Materials and Fuels

The conservation of natural resources is part of our sustainable business strategy. That is why we make greater use of waste materials and by-products from other industries as valuable raw materials and fuels.

We use alternative raw materials for the production of clinker, which is the most important intermediate product in the manufacture of cement. In this way we reduce the amount of CO₂ intensive clinker in the final product. The increased use of alternative raw materials in cement production is thus a core element of our climate strategy.

Alternative fuels

We use these resources as alternatives to finite natural raw materials and fossil fuels in the production of cement. In this way, we are helping to conserve resources and solve the problems associated with waste disposal faced by municipalities and industrial companies near our plants. At the same time, these efforts are also reducing our CO₂ emissions, because the biomass that accounts for around 39% of the alternative fuel mix is classified as climate neutral.

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