Sweden’s concrete industry is developing a road map for climate neutralisation in conjunction with Fossil Free Sweden (FFS), a government body set up prior to COP21 in Paris. It will be submitted to the Swedish Prime Minister in March 2018. The process will be led by the Concrete Initiative, an alliance of concrete companies, municipalities, organisations and builders.
Cement production accounts for more than 90 percent of the climate impact of concrete and represents the largest source of emissions to the concrete industry. In 2016, greenhouse gas emissions from Sweden’s concrete industry amounted to about 5 percent of total emissions in Sweden.
Climate-neutral cement production is technically possible today through the use of carbon capture and storage but is 70 percent more expensive than conventional cement, so the technology has to be further developed if it is to become competitive. About 30 percent of cement’s climate impact can be reduced with a transition to non-fossil fuels, but other measures, such as carbon dioxide separation, are required for the remaining 60-70 percent. Climate neutrality also involves dealing with the residual carbon dioxide arising in the cement production itself.
Despite the high additional cost of climate-friendly concrete, it only adds 0.5 percent to the cost of a completed building.
According to FSS, in Germany and Poland the company Thomas Betong is looking into reducing the amount of cement clinker (which represents the majority of the CO2 emissions) by using different kinds of binding material, while one of the Swedish cement companies is collaborating with Norway on carbon capture and storage. However, the Swedish initiative is probably the most ambitious in terms of environment-friendly concrete.
Climate-enhanced concrete is currently available for concrete for building construction and the development of cement and concrete for infrastructure. This includes work with alternative binders, climate-smart recipes, optimization of design and construction, transport and energy supply.
Svante Axelsson, national coordinator for FFS, points out that “if we are to build the volumes of housing and infrastructure required in the coming years while living up to the climate targets, climate-neutral concrete production is a prerequisite.”
Note: This article was originally written for ENDS Europe but deemed not newsworthy enough. But I think it’s fascinating so decided to use the material as a blog instead.