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EBRD helps to reduce carbon emissions from the Egyptian cement industry

By Nibal Zgheib

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New report sets out recommendations to help achieve CO2 reductions

The Egyptian cement industry could reduce its CO2 emissions by 2030 by following new recommendations in a report from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

These recommendations have been published in the EBRD’s report: “Policy roadmap for a Low-Carbon Egyptian Cement Industry” which highlights the need for decisive and collaborative action by the industry’s stakeholders in order to achieve a reduction in CO₂ emissions.

The report was initiated by the EBRD, in cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), the Chamber of Building Materials Industries/Cement Industry Association (CBMI) and the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The issue has become all the more pressing after Egypt signed the COP21 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which commits signatories to ambitious long-term measures to curb CO2 emissions, with the ultimate aim of limiting the rise in the global temperature to well below two degrees Celsius.

A workshop organised by the EBRD to present and discuss the objectives and recommendations of the roadmap, brought together representatives from government offices and industry organisations, as well as other industry players and relevant stakeholders.

The roadmap outlines recommendations for policy actions from the Egyptian government that may provide effective incentives for the cement industry to improve its energy efficiency and to reduce CO2 emissions.

The report points out that the potential for improvement is high even though 50 per cent of the Egyptian cement industry’s production capacity was built after 2000, and is using up-to-date equipment and clinker kilns that are using high quality technology or so-called best available technology (BAT).

Until 2014, the Egyptian cement industry – one of the most energy intensive industries in the country -- had primarily used state-subsidised natural gas and heavy fuel oil to fire its cement kilns.

However, following a gradual phasing out of the energy subsidies, Egyptian cement companies have switched to using high CO2 intensive fuels such as coal and petroleum coke (petcoke).

The roadmap suggests that in order to reduce CO2 emissions, the industry should reduce the clinker content in cement, increase the use of alternative fuels to coal and petcoke, improve electrical energy efficiency and use more renewable sources of energy. Under one of the most ambitious scenarios, 2.2 million tonnes of coal per year will no longer have to be imported by 2030, saving about US$ 200 million. Furthermore this would lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions to about two per cent below the historic level prior to the fuel switch.”

In addition, the cement industry could contribute to the major problem of waste disposal in Egypt. Under the right financial and regulatory conditions it should be possible for the industry to substitute traditional fossil fuels with fuel derived from waste products. 

Philip ter Woort, the EBRD Director for Egypt, said: “Improving environmental standards in the cement industry and offering commercial incentives is realistic and vital for the profitability of the sector.”

The EBRD has invested over €1.8 billion in Egypt through 34 projects since the start of its activities in the country in 2012.

The Bank’s areas of investment include the financial sector, agribusiness, manufacturing and services, as well as infrastructure projects such as power, municipal water and wastewater services and contributions to the upgrade of transport services‎.

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