Blueprint details how Indian cement sector can sharply reduce its CO2 emissions

25 February 2013

India’s massive infrastructure needs mean its cement industry will likely expand rapidly over the next 40 years, putting it on track for a fivefold increase in the sector’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050. But a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) shows how the Indian cement sector could sharply cut its emissions in the coming decades, keeping as much CO2 out of the atmosphere by the middle of the century as Thailand emitted in 2009.              

Technology Roadmap: Low-Carbon Technology for the Indian Cement Industry (with its accompanying foldout) follows another IEA-WBCSD joint effort, Cement Technology Roadmap 2009, the first such report to address carbon emissions reduction for one industrial sector as a whole. The 2012 roadmap focuses on India because of the domestic industry’s rapid growth.

India’s cement industry is the second-largest in the world after China’s, and it more than doubled output from 2000 to 2010. The sector is the third-largest energy consumer in India’s manufacturing sector, and because production involves burning limestone, or calcium carbonate, a significant geological repository for carbon, it is responsible for 7% of India’s emissions of carbon dioxide that increase global temperature.

India’s cement industry has already reduced direct and indirect CO2 emissions per tonne of cement by more than a third since 1996, but total emissions are growing with increased production. The new roadmap specifies technologies, policy frameworks and investment plans that would limit that growth to just a doubling or at most a 240% increase. Techniques range from alternative fuels to waste heat recovery and include carbon capture and storage (CCS), with total additional investments through 2050 of USD 29 billion to 50 billion.

The recommendations in Technology Roadmap: Low-Carbon Technology for the Indian Cement Industry also would save the sector at least 375 petajoules of energy in 2050, the equivalent of current annual energy use in Sri Lanka or Bulgaria. Supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the initiative also includes tools and financing for feasibility studies of the roadmap’s low-carbon technology at select plants.

“The IEA is pleased to have partnered again with WBCSD to develop this national roadmap for the cement industry in India, the world’s fastest-growing cement market,” Maria van der Hoeven, IEA Executive Director, said. “We applaud the Indian cement industry and the IFC for their initiative to undertake a second phase focusing on roadmap implementation and for their efforts to transition the Indian cement industry to a low-carbon pathway.”

Besides the IEA, WBSCD and IFC, the Technology Roadmap: Low-Carbon Technology for the Indian Cement Industry initiative was developed in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the National Council for Cement and Building Materials and the involvement of Indian companies that belong to the WBCSD’s Cement Sustainability Initiative.