Harnessing the wind's power

23 September 2019

When it comes to wind power there’s no such thing as hot air. That’s why LafargeHolcim’s Paulding plant in the US is harnessing the wind for its power, and eliminating the equivalent of 9,000 tons of CO2 per year.


Paulding County sits in northwestern Ohio, where the withdrawal of several ice age lakes left flat, broad, fertile plains which are well-suited to large-scale agriculture. Anyone visiting for the first time will be struck by the coverage of soybean, corn and wheat. Visiting by night, however, one might notice the cultivation of something else: wind power. A field of blinking red lights warns civil aircraft to avoid Paulding County’s 216 wind turbines, which make it one of the state’s leading producers of wind power.

Most of the electricity generated in Paulding is fed into the grid. But three of the county’s newest turbines will be dedicated to one user alone: LafafgeHolcim’s cement plant based in Paulding, Ohio. The turbines will begin delivering power to the plant in October. With the 45m-long (150 feet) blades spinning up to a height of 120 meters (400 feet), they will contribute more than 12 million renewable kilowatt hours per year to meet the plant’s electricity requirements. This eliminates the emission of at least 9,000 tons of CO2 annually. The turbines are surprisingly quiet, says Ed Martell, Regional Category Manager in North America — and deceptively powerful. “They can be going 150 miles per hour,” he says, “and look like they’re just barely turning.”

This commitment to clean energy comes on top of the plant’s commitment to heat its kilns almost entirely (95%) from fuel-quality wastes derived from other industrial processes, virtually eliminating the need for fossil fuels. The plant has used alternative fuels for its kilns since 1978. Plant managers had considered building wind turbines more than ten years before. But it took the partnership of OneEnergy, a global wind power operator based in nearby Findlay, to bring them to reality. 

OneEnergy came up with a plan to build the turbines, to retain ownership of them and then to maintain and operate them for the plant’s dedicated use. “The turbines are built on top of our rehabilitated quarry, inside the plant’s fence-line,” Martell continued. “And that land wasn’t going to be useful for much else. “A lot of our plants have a similar situation, so I’m hopeful that Paulding can serve as a good model for others.” Power from the turbines is up to 30% cheaper than electricity from the grid. 

Shifting to renewables sources of electrical energy around the world

Paulding is just the latest site to use renewable sources of energy for the electricity consumption of LafargeHolcim plants. In Morocco, wind power accounts for three-quarters of the electrical energy we consume, with a goal to reach 90% by 2020. Holcim Argentina will replace 35% of its conventionally-sourced electricity with wind power beginning in 2020. Indian affiliate ACC gets around 33 megawatts of power each year from solar power. Our Portland, Colorado plant was the first cement plant in the US to power its facilities with solar energy, and our Hagerstown, Maryland plant will begin construction of a solar array this year. Altogether renewables deliver 8 million gigajoules of electricity to our cement plants, eliminating the emissions of over 1 million tons of CO2 annually.