Concrete Industry Reveals Technologies To Achieve Net Zero Targets

The UK concrete industry has been considering ways it can help the government reach its net zero target of carbon emissions, highlighting different existing and emerging technologies that can help improve its green credentials.

Last year, the government became the first major economy to pass emissions law, with its aim to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This is an improvement on its previous target of reducing carbon output by 80 per cent of 1990 levels.

This ambition goal implies any emissions need to be offset to achieve an overall balance of net zero. This can be done by planting trees or using technologies, such as carbon capture, usage or storage (CCUS).

Energy and clean growth minister Chris Skidmore said: “We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.”

This commitment has led the MPA UK Concrete, which represents the industry in Britain, to consider how the sector can achieve these targets, having based its previous strategy upon the original goal.

It is also beginning to look at how the industry can continue to attain a balance of net zero beyond 2020.

Last week, it revealed a framework to help create a roadmap for the country’s cement and concrete sector to achieve this goal. This includes exploring the use of existing and emerging technologies, such as fuel switching, energy efficiency, low-carbon cements and concretes, or CCUS.

The organisation also suggested it will use the natural properties of concrete, such as carbonation and thermal mass, in order to potentially achieving a net negative and removing more carbon from the atmosphere than the sector produces.

Director of UK Concrete Chris Leese stated: “Cement and concrete are essential to delivering a net-zero carbon and circular economy, and as part of the wider mineral products industry already deliver a substantial biodiversity ‘net gain’.”

He went on to reveal the organisation’s intention is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which the sector has already proved to be successful at, having reduced absolute carbon emissions by 53 per cent since 1990s. It is also decarbonising faster than the rest of the UK economy.

Mr Leese went on to say: “Achieving net-zero will require the wholesale decarbonisation of all aspects of concrete and cement production, supply and use. We will only be able to achieve our net zero and net negative emissions goals with concerted support from government and the wider construction, energy and transportation sectors.”

The roadmap will also be used to help create net zero strategies for other mineral products. These include aggregates, asphalt, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand.

Director of MPA Cement Dr Richard Leese added: “We believe that net zero should be achieved by reducing emissions from the construction materials manufactured in the UK rather than by simply replacing these with imports and moving the problem abroad.”

He added: “The roadmap aims to retain jobs and economic value in the UK whilst ensuring that the UK takes responsibility for the emissions it creates.”

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