Energy and Climate Protection

Sustainability is an integral part of HeidelbergCement 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.

HeidelbergCement in the EU ETS

Under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), companies in energy-intensive sectors receive free allocation to prevent carbon leakage - the migration of industry to regions without carbon pricing, or imports from regions without carbon pricing. In the absence of a global carbon price, it is necessary for national or regional carbon pricing systems to provide this effective protection against carbon leakage in order to avoid deindustrialisation and create local incentives to reduce emissions.

As part of the Green Deal, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal in July 2021 to reform the European Emissions Trading Scheme, in combination with the introduction of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). HeidelbergCement supports this ambitious measure as an important step towards climate neutrality, and as an incentive for innovation and for more investments in emission reduction technologies. The so-called CBAM is necessary in order to continue to ensure a level playing field between EU-based manufacturers and importers on the basis of CO2 pricing. At the same time, new product standards and political stimuli in procurement schemes are needed in order to build up demand for new, low-emission building materials.

HeidelbergCement continuously invests in plant modernisation and energy efficiency measures, and thus makes an active contribution to achieving the European emission reduction goals - in line with the European Emissions Trading Scheme. In Germany alone, we have invested around €400 million in the modernisation of our plants and the reduction of our CO2 emissions in recent years. In addition, we have made further investments in other European countries, about which we provide information in our Annual Report and as part of our communications activities. Over the next 10 years, we will continue to heavily invest in climate protection and promote further projects to scale up climate-friendly technologies.

HeidelbergCement thus sees itself as a pioneer in the cement industry in the fight against climate change, and has reduced specific CO2 emissions by 23% since 1990: from 750 kg / tonne of cement (1990) to 576 kg / tonne (2020). By 2025, the CO2 emissions are to be further reduced to around 525 kg / tonne of cement.

Our road to carbon neutrality

Our road to carbon neutrality

We will significantly reduce our carbon footprint until 2030

The measures that we are taking to lower CO2 emissions include:

  • Optimisation of products: To further reduce the clinker incorporation rate, we are steadily increasing the use of supplementary cementitious materials with a significantly lower CO2 footprint (such as fly ash, slag, calcined clay, etc), but also boosting circularity and increasing the share of low-carbon concrete products and low-clinker cement types. For various locations, we are also evaluating the use of alternative cement components, such as natural pozzolans or calcined clays.
     
  • Optimisiation of processes: We are investing in plant efficiency and CO2 reduction at plant level, focusing on fuel and energy efficiency. We are constantly increasing the use of alternative raw materials and fuels including biomass (which accounted for 25.7% of our fuel usage in 2021) and investing into renewable electricity production.
     
  • Carbon capture, utilisation & storage: CCUS – carbon capture, utilisation and storage – is another key component of our climate strategy. With the CCUS projects already launched by HeidelbergCement alone, we will reduce 10 million tonnes of CO2 cumulatively by 2030.

We have defined concrete targets for all these measures for all locations worldwide.

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

HeidelbergCement 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 HeidelbergCement 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 www.project-leilac.eu

To further develop the oxyfuel technology, HeidelbergCement 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, HeidelbergCement 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.

Current research projects investigating carbon sequestration and utilisation

In 2017, HeidelbergCement 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 HeidelbergCement 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 HeidelbergCement 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 biobased 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