Innovative Sources of Energy
Cement manufacturing requires sustained high temperatures in excess of 1,450oC. Traditionally, the industry has used highly efficient and cost-effective fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum coke.
However, in order to remain competitive while improving environmental performance, the industry is striving to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels through substitution with alternative and renewable energy sources.
Environmental and Health
Environmental and public health authorities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency1 and the U.K. Health Protection Agency2, have concluded that the use of alternative and renewable energy in properly managed and maintained cement kilns poses no risks to human health or the environment, and research has demonstrated that it frequently improves environmental performance3.
Experience suggests that the use of alternative energy sources in cement manufacturing contributes to higher community recycling rates as a result of improved sorting, increased participation rates, and the creation of market opportunities3. The United Nations Environment Program has found that jurisdictions with the highest energy recovery rates also lead the way in total recycling and composting rates (Click to enlarge diagram at left).
Where are we now?
The average alternative energy substitution rate in Europe is 19.4% with rates in several Western European nations exceeding 30%.
With the right mix of supportive public policies, similar energy substitution rates should be achievable within the Canadian industry. Approvals processes need to be modernized to allow for the burning of fuels other than coal and petroleum coke, and waste management policies and programs need to be strengthened so that energy-rich materials are diverted from landfills and made available as substitute energy sources for the cement sector.