With the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the sustainable and low-carbon development of energy intensive industries, such as the cement industry, will be a high priority for governments committed to undertake Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) - ambitious long-term measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
It is against this backdrop that a consortium of international and local experts has published a Low-Carbon Roadmap for the Egyptian Cement Industry. Led by South Pole Group with Cementis GmbH and EcoConServ Environmental Solutions as partners, the team was further strengthened by the Cement Sustainability Initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD/CSI) who provided technical support for the project.
The Roadmap is the key outcome of a project initiated in 2015 by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the Egyptian Cement Industry Association and supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) through its Shareholder Special Fund and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Multi-Donor Account (MDA).
Historically, the Egyptian cement industry has relied mainly on state-subsidised natural gas and heavy fuel. Since 2014, following the new national energy strategy and its NDCs, the Government of Egypt has been gradually removing fuel subsidies for energy-intensive industries, including production of cement. As a result, more carbon-intensive fuels such as coal and petcoke are becoming economically more viable for the cement industry. Such a fuel switch may significantly increase CO2 emissions from the Egyptian cement sector – by up to 15% by 2030 – unless urgent actions are taken.
The purpose of the Low-Carbon Roadmap is to suggest a pathway for the cement sector detailing how to mitigate the impact on CO2 emissions of the new fuel regulations in Egypt. The Roadmap, which was developed through extensive consultations with local stakeholders, suggests the most suitable technological levers that can help cement companies to improve their energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. It also recommends policy actions for the Egyptian Government that should provide effective incentives for the cement industry to implement low-carbon measures.
"The Roadmap is realistic," says Francisco Koch (South Pole Group), one of the lead authors of the report. "The targeted improvements of the key performance indicators – on production volumes, energy efficiency, use of alternative fuels, clinker content in cement, and CO2 emissions – though fairly ambitious, are achievable in the Egyptian context", he adds.
Additionally, with South Pole Group's experts in the core team, another cement project has recently been successfully completed in Vietnam. The project, supported by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), aimed to a develop a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) for the Vietnamese cement industry. Most of the mitigation actions recommended are economically attractive and, if implemented, this NAMA could help to reduce up to 164 million tCO2e emissions by 2030 (depending on the cement production capacity scenario), making it one of the most ambitious NAMAs ever designed.
"The Egyptian and Vietnamese cement projects illustrate how employing sector-wide approaches can help to achieve ambitious NDC targets while still making sure that adequate options are provided for governments to create innovative policy and financial frameworks that can encourage private sector players to invest into low-carbon technologies," says Yulia Dobrolyubova, Project Manager, South Pole Group.