To help address our own as well as some of society’s climate impacts, we are continually seeking new ways to reduce the amount of energy that we use, whether the fuel necessary to produce cement or the energy needed to supply electricity for our operations. We do this for two reasons:
1. to decrease our consumption of virgin natural resources, either directly through burning fuels in our
kilns, or indirectly through electricity purchases; and
2. to lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by burning and using energy sourced from fossil fuels.
Our alternative fuels and renewable energy programs are successful on both counts. Our alternative fuels program opens up opportunities for us to safely dispose of societal waste while decreasing the total carbon footprint of our plants. And our renewable energy projects enable us to secure clean energy to power our plants.
Because cement kilns require high temperatures to produce cement, they are ideal for safely incinerating waste—such as chipped tires, sewage sludge, household waste, and biomass such as rice and coffee husks, sawdust, and palm residues—while recovering energy in the process. Our kilns thus enable us to provide a safe, suitable alternative to landfilling while, at the same time, enabling us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and avoid related emissions of greenhouse gases.
We engage with communities and regulators to expand our use of alternative fuels in a way that is sensitive to potential community concerns and is fully compliant with all applicable local, regional, and national policies and regulations. We have put in place corporate guidelines for the introduction and handling of alternative fuels and raw materials in cement kilns to complement local regulation or to serve as a substitute where no regulation exists.
Our use of alternative fuels is highest in Europe. In the United Kingdom, we have introduced alternative fuels at several facilities. Our Rugby plant has replaced 30% of fossil fuels with Climafuel®, a solid, non-hazardous fuel derived from household waste. Climafuel® looks like shredded paper and consists of treated paper, cardboard, wood, carpet, textiles, and plastics. This fuel source confers significant environmental benefits when used in place of fossil fuels, including a reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides. Thus the use of Climafuel® is expected to lead to improved local and regional air quality.
CEMEX sources Climafuel® from specialized waste-management facilities. Regulators recently granted us permission to work with joint-venture partner Waste Recycling Group to construct and operate a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) production facility near our Rugby plant. Once planning and construction is complete, the facility will have the capacity to receive approximately 300,000 tons of local waste per year and provide up to 65% of the Rugby plant’s RDF needs. In 2009 we replaced up to 40% of fossil fuels with alternative fuels, including RDF, at our Rugby operation; benefits included a marked reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
"Using alternative fuels is now commonplace in the industry. By having a locally based plant to supply us with Climafuel®, we will be able to double our use of alternative fuels and achieve significant environmental benefits. Equally important, a local RDF facility will help support and maintain the 700 jobs that rely directly on the success of this cement plant by improving our ability to operate more effectively in a very competitive sector."
– Ian Southcott, CEMEX UK Community Affairs Manager
For several years, our German operations have led the way in incorporating alternative fuels to meet a significant percentage of their plants’ energy needs. For example, alternative fuels comprising 73% domestic refuse account for 48 percent of the total energy needs at our Rüdersdorf cement plant. The plant is located in an area that produces approximately 3 million metric tons of garbage each year.
Thanks to our shared best practices, alternative fuels account for nearly 70% of the fuel consumption in our Chelm cement plant in Poland. This plant primarily uses refuse-derived fuel (RDF), which is obtained from specialized waste management plants that collect, treat, and turn municipal and commercial waste into a solid, safe fuel that confers significant environmental benefits when used in place of fossil fuels.
Our cement plant in Buñol, Spain, is using a RDF known as ENERFUEL, and avoiding CO2 emissions in the process. Thus far we have been able to obtain fuel substitution rates as high as 44% in a month using ENERFUEL at this plant while maintaining low rates of emissions. In particular, the use of ENERFUEL has resulted in a significant reduction in NOx.
ENERFUEL is used with the approval of local authorities. We have been granted permission by Spain’s government to test the fuel at our Buñol plant to determine the feasibility of manufacturing it closer to the site for its use in our cement kilns.
Another area in which we are taking a leadership role is with regard to registration of United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. Industrialized countries can take advantage of CDM projects to gain flexibility in meeting their carbon reduction targets. Countries that invest in these projects can in essence gain credit for carbon reductions realized by the projects.
We recently registered three CDM projects. One, the Eurus wind farm (see below), is the second-largest CDM project in terms of emissions reduction in the world. And in 2008, CEMEX registered CDM projects in Colombia and Costa Rica, in which we are substituting fossil fuels with rice and coffee husks, sawdust and palm residues. These projects are expected to reduce direct CO2 emissions by more than 120,000 tons per year. We expect to register additional CDM initiatives in the coming years.
The largest wind power generator in Latin America and one of the largest wind farms in the world, the Eurus wind farm became fully operational in 2009. With 167 wind turbines generating up to 1.5 megawatts (MW) of power each, the Eurus wind farm in Oaxaca, southern Mexico, has a production capacity of 250 MW and can supply 25% of our energy needs in Mexico.
When registered, Eurus had the second-largest emissions reduction of any project under the United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism, and one of the largest emission-reduction indexes per installed capacity in the world.
The wind farm, which was developed jointly by CEMEX and the Spanish company ACCIONA Energía, represents an investment of US$550 million by ACCIONA and created more than 850 jobs in the region during construction. Eurus brings other benefits to the local economy and community such as ongoing job creation. We estimate that the energy produced by Eurus could power a Mexican city of half a million people, reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 600 thousand tons each year—that’s approximately 25% of the total emissions generated by such a community.
The wind farm represents a major contribution to our global effort to reduce our environmental impacts and become a more sustainable enterprise.
"We are committed to becoming more sustainable by using alternative fuels and applying more efficient processes to save energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and contributing to a cleaner environment. We are determined to include renewable electricity sources in our energy mix, and feel very proud of the Eurus wind farm."
– Lorenzo H. Zambrano, Chairman of the Board and CEO of CEMEX
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