UK Concrete, part of the Mineral Products Association (MPA), says that net zero can be met through decarbonised electricity and transport networks, fuel switching and greater use of low-carbon cements and concretes as well as carbon capture, usage or storage (CCUS) technology for cement manufacture.
Called Roadmap to Beyond Net Zero, the strategy document sets out the potential of each technology and the carbon savings that might be achieved. CCUS technology is vital to delivering net zero manufacturing, it says, and according to the roadmap will deliver 61% of the required carbon savings.
A net negative concrete and cement industry by 2050 will be achieved by using the natural, in-use properties of concrete which include its ability to absorb carbon dioxide during use, and the benefit of using the thermal properties of concrete in buildings and structures to reduce operational emissions, the authors claim.
The concrete and cement industry has already taken steps to adopt the use of less carbon intensive alternatives to cement. The MPA is building on this by undertaking demonstrations of hydrogen and plasma technology, which are being partly funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The industry is now lobbying government for financial support to help get the technology developed to become an investable proposition in the 2030s.
MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson said: “Concrete, and the aggregates and cement used to make it, are essential materials for our economy and our way of life. New homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, roads and railways, as well as the infrastructure that provides us with clean water, sanitation and energy all depend on these materials.
“We have already made significant progress to reduce carbon emissions but are under no illusion about the scale of the net zero challenge. Achieving this will require the wholesale decarbonisation of all aspects of concrete and cement production, supply and use. The concrete and cement industry as one sector alone cannot deliver net zero and we will only be able to go beyond net zero with concerted support from government, as well as with significant changes across the wider construction, energy and transportation sectors.
“Critically, our roadmap will be delivered without offsetting emissions or offshoring production facilities. We believe that net zero should be achieved by reducing emissions from the construction materials manufactured in the UK, rather than by ‘carbon leakage’ where UK production is replaced with imports that simply moves the emissions responsibility abroad. The aim should be to retain jobs and economic value in the UK whilst ensuring that the UK takes responsibility for the emissions it creates.”