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Overcoming the carbon lock-in: a techno-economic analysis of the Spanish cement sector

T. Gerres, J.P. Chaves, P. Linares, T. Gómez

European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study on Energy Efficiency, Gotemburgo (Suecia). 14 septiembre 2020


Cement clinker production is one of the most emission intensive industrial processes. Emissions originate from both the combustion of fossil fuels and the chemical reaction of limestone to calcium oxide within the kiln. Decarbonisation alternatives include carbon capture and storage, renewable energy sources and non-clinker based cementitious materials. Since drastically reducing the carbon footprint of cement is an absolute necessity for a near-carbon neutral society, as aimed for by the European Union, alternatives to today´s processes need to become commercially available and fully replace existing installations until 2050. This marks a huge challenge for the industry and installations in operation, today. Cement kilns have an economic lifetime of 25 years and its replacement is highly capital intensive. While deep decarbonisation alternatives require a redesign or new installations, other options as the use of renewable energy sources, as biomass, hydrogen and partial electrification, might be feasible with updating existing processes, but do not allow for near zero emissions. Cement plant operators, replacing their kilns over the next decades, will base their investment decision on the expected profitability of the available technologies. Policy makers therefore need to design incentives, which ensure that re-investment decisions by plant operators are in line with long-term decarbonisation targets. Else, a carbon lock-in with technologies not able to deliver the required emission reduction is likely. The objective of our research is to evaluate the potential of different policies to avoid such carbon lock-in. For the case of the Spanish cement industry, we study the impact of different policy options on the optimal investment decisions given different sector targets for the year 2050. Preliminary results highlight the importance of a strong regulatory support for investment costs and operational expenditures during the early phases of the transition period.

Palabras clave: deep decarbonisation, energy policy, EU2050, basic material sector, industry transition

Fecha de publicación: septiembre 2020.

T. Gerres, J.P. Chaves, P. Linares, T. Gómez, Overcoming the carbon lock-in: a techno-economic analysis of the Spanish cement sector, European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study on Energy Efficiency - ECEEE 2020, Gotemburgo (Suecia). 14-17 Septiembre 2020. En: Industrial Efficiency 2020: Decarbonise industry! eceee Industrial Summer Study proceedings, ISBN: 978-91-983878-6-5

    Líneas de investigación:
  • Análisis de políticas energéticas sostenibles


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