Innovative sustainable building through R&D
Holcim offers a broad portfolio of low-carbon products and technologies with the industry’s leading R&D organization and global innovation network strongly geared towards developing sustainable products. More than 50% of R&D resources and 40% of patents focus on low-carbon products and one-third of our net sales in 2019 comes from our portfolio of sustainable solutions.
Other actions taken to reduce our CO2 intensity
We have reduced our CO2 intensity by 28% since 1990. The key actions today are:
Clinker substitution: Our products currently use an average of 29% of constituents to replace clinker, resulting in one of the lowest levels of clinker content (or ‘clinker factor’) among international peers.
Waste-derived fuels and biomass: We currently source 21% of our energy from alternative fuels, low carbon fuels and biomass. In some of our operations, we’ve met 100% of our energy requirements with alternative fuels. These alternative energy sources not only help reduce our CO2 emissions, they also divert waste from incineration or landfill.
Increased energy efficiency: Cement production is an energy-intensive manufacturing process. Energy costs and security of supply are key business drivers. Improving our energy efficiency reduces the carbon intensity of our products and lowers our production costs. As a result of these efforts, we have reduced our energy consumption per tonne of clinker to 3,538 megajoules in 2020 (1990: 4,532 megajoules). Our energy consumption has increased three times less than our cement production since 1990.
Waste heat recovery: We also optimized our power-producing assets across our production plant portfolio. We currently operate 5 waste heat recovery units in 4 countries and plan to increase this with more investments planned as early as 2021.
Renewable energy: In 2019, we accelerated our purchase of renewable power adding close to 250 MW equivalent of clean power to our global electricity mix, including opportunities to generate renewable energy on our land by installing wind turbines and solar panel farms. In August 2020, for example, three wind turbines with a combined 4.5 MW capacity built on our site in Paulding, OH (US) began delivering power to the plant, eliminating the emission of at least 9,000 tons of CO2 annually. In India Ambuja Cement has recently commissioned an onsite solar plant at its Rabriyawas plant. The plant will have a capacity of 7.1 MW and will avoid 8,900 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Carbon capture: Holcim is continually exploring new strategies and technologies, such as carbon capture and usage and signed 4 pilot projects in the last 12 months, including 2 feasibility studies that received government funding.
Green products: Holcim’s wide range of low-carbon products (Susteno®, EcoPact or Evopact, AIRIUM®) enables us to reduce both CO2 emissions generated by the production process and CO2 emissions for our clients in the building sector. In 2020 we launched ECOpact, our green concrete in all our main markets.
Optimization of downstream transportation: Holcim is continually deploying initiatives and tools to optimize our transportation network, routes, fleets and fuel consumption. Since 2017, our Transport Analytics Center enables performance improvement in all countries from Latam, MEA and APAC and it is currently being rolled out in Europe. Today, this is possible because more than 70% of the Group’s transport distances are covered by “In-vehicle Management Systems (iVMS)”