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Profitably reducing CO2 in the cement industry

Basics #

Question What can be done to reduce GHG emissions in the cement industry profitably?

Contest main page Submit proposals at

Deadline June 15, 2013, at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time

Rules All entrants must agree to the 2012-13 contest rules.

Prizes The contest winners will be invited to present their work at the Crowds and Climate Conference at MIT November 6-7, 2013, and at the event, a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded to one of the contest winners. In addition, the Judges' Choice Award winner will receive travel expenses to present their proposal at a Carbon War Room event in 2013 or 2014.

Related contests Climate CoLab's Industrial efficiency contest

Guidelines from the contest Advisor(s) and Fellow(s) #

Opportunity/challenge #

The cement industry is one of the most carbon-intensive industries, due in large part to the thermal energy required to produce clinker, the key component of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC), the industry standard. The world produced 3 billion metric tons of cement in 2009, emitting more than 2.4 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 into the atmosphere. The industry predicts global cement production is projected to grow to 5.9 billion tons by 2020, amounting to annual CO2 emissions from the production of cement to more than 4.8 Gt. China alone is expected to produce an extra 4 billion metric tons of cement annually by 2020.

Aggressive pursuit of proven carbon intensity reduction measures has the potential to reduce emissions from cement production by 0.9 Gt annually by 2020.The largest potential source of reductions with proven technology is the accelerated use of alternative fuel (370 Megatons or Mt), followed by clinker substitution with alternative materials (300 Mt), thermal energy efficiency improvements (140 Mt), and electricity efficiency improvements (90 Mt). The development of nanotechnologies and other OPC alternatives also shows tremendous potential for reducing emissions in the industry while generating billions in additional economic activity.

Due to high capital expenditure requirements, most cement plants are highly leveraged. As a result, cement manufacturers encounter difficulties accessing capital for investment in efficiency improvements to reduce emissions.

Globally, 18 major cement producers--including the top five cement producing companies--together account for a mere 30 percent of total cement production. Cement producers are in a competitive market dominated by price and therefore they cannot compromise on quality. As a result, the industry is risk averse and reluctant to invest in unproven technology.

Two important levers for decreasing emissions are:

Each measure, however, has an impact on one or more of the desired characteristics of cement such as strength, durability, malleability, and price. As a result, these cements often fail to comply with various regulations and procurement standards, many of which require reform. Alternative cements therefore end up being used in most cases for niche applications, though certain types of blended cements are being used as direct replacements for OPC.

Key issues #

Contest Focus This contest asks what can be done to reduce GHG emissions in the cement industry profitably.

Possible Actions The goal of this contest is to propose solutions with the potential for catalytic impact. This is defined as any strategy or approach that can result in the creation of conditions that will allow for the deployment of clean-tech process changes that are demonstrably profitable under current policy, on a scale that can result in an annual, gigaton-scale (billion tons) abatement of CO2 emissions.

Examples include:

Geographic Focus The scope of this contest is the entire world. While the majority of cement production occurs in China, and China's percentage of market share is rapidly rising, many of the technologies that can greatly reduce emissions in this industry are being developed in the United States, Europe, and by entrepreneurs and researchers throughout the world.

Key Actors Proposals can include actions to be taken by a wide range of actors, including, for instance:

Judges and contest-specific prizes #

Judges for this contest will include:

The prize will be an all expenses-paid trip to a Carbon War Room Creating Climate Wealth Summit, date to be determined. At this event, the winner will have the opportunity to present their proposal to an audience of motivated executives, investors, entrepreneurs and other leaders from both the private and public sectors.

All teams that prepare winning proposals will be invited to present their work at in person or virtually at an event at MIT to be held in the 2013, where all the winners from 2012-13 Climate CoLab contests will be featured. The Climate CoLab staff plan to invite a range of policymakers, business executives and investors and NGO officials to this MIT event.

References #

Reference is currently on Building efficiency page at

Please find here the complete research report by Carbon War Room: Cement Report

Here are additional useful links: