Lord Callanan gains insight into actions needed to decarbonize UK’s ‘dispersed’ cement plants
THE UK Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, Lord Callanan, visited Rugby cement works in Warwickshire on Friday 12 January to gain an insight into the actions needed to decarbonize the UK’s ‘dispersed’ cement plants.
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) and operators of Rugby cement works Cemex hosted the visit to highlight the challenges and opportunities for decarbonizing dispersed plants like Rugby, which are located too far from other large production plants to be included in one of the net-zero industrial clusters.
Being part of an industrial cluster allows plant operators to work together, pool resources, and pitch for the available Government funding to support decarbonization. Yet only half of the UK’s 10 cement plants are currently within clusters and some, like Rugby, are too isolated from other industries to be part of a cluster. Decarbonization at dispersed plants is just as vital as those within clusters if the UK is to meet its net zero ambitions.
The Government recently published its vision for an industry-led carbon capture sector in the UK and is already funding studies into on-site carbon storage through the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund. A formula for low-carbon cement is also under development, with £3.2 million government funding provided to the MPA to undertake this work. The Minister and MPA discussed the need to keep working together with manufacturers to deliver net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Lord Callanan said: ‘We have a strong cement industry here in the UK which is vital to our infrastructure, housing, and urban regeneration. The Government has recently published its blueprint for a carbon capture industry, to assist important sectors such as cement manufacturing to reach net zero while supporting our construction needs. It was excellent to hear from leaders here in Rugby, a cement heartland in its own right, about the impact of this work and I look forward to continuing this dialogue with UK cement producers.’
Dr Diana Casey, the MPA’s executive director for energy and climate change, said: ‘Global cement companies are taking decisions on long-term investments now and the UK needs to attract that investment to ensure we have a secure supply of low-carbon cement for future construction and infrastructure needs.
‘The visit was a welcome opportunity to show the commitment of the UK cement sector to decarbonizing dispersed sites and to press on the Minister the urgent need for enabling policies, like a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and a longer-term business model for carbon capture including viable transport and storage options suitable for dispersed sites like Rugby.’
Lex Russell, MPA chair and managing director of Cemex UK Materials, said: ‘Net zero is achievable in our industry. It is fantastic to see the progress that is being made on the MPA UK concrete and cement industry’s roadmap to beyond net zero; however, we need government to support with policies that ensure ongoing investment is possible and operators are able to meet their targets to support a net-zero economy.’
Cemex’s Rugby cement works has pioneered the use of alternative fuels, including a multi-million-pound investment in 2022 to eliminate fossil fuel use in favour of waste-derived alternatives, a key part of the firm’s efforts to decarbonize its operations and achieve net-zero CO2 cement and concrete by 2050.