THE cement industry could cut its carbon emissions and produce more material cheaper if it embraced new technology, new research has claimed.
Irish industry is mandated by the EU to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 85pc between now and 2050, and the concrete and cement industry is the single largest producer of such emissions in the country.
A report produced by Irish cement maker Ecocem claims the industry needs to begin investing in cleaner cement technologies now if it is to have any chance of meeting its EU targets in the next three decades.
Such a change could have wide-ranging implications for the commercial property sector, particularly when it comes to constructing new buildings. Ecocem claims its technology reduces carbon production in cement making by as much as 50pc.
The company produces cement using slag from the steel-making process. It says its product has a carbon footprint of 19kg of CO2 per tonne of cement – a fraction of the estimated footprint of traditionally produced cement.
According to Ecocem managing director Donal O'Riain, the industry's C02 emissions are on track to be 800pc above target by 2050 and urgently needs to change how cement and concrete is produced.
Mr O'Riain claims the transition to a low-carbon cement and concrete industry will be a "major source of new jobs and a cleaner environment".
"We believe between 600 and 1,200 new jobs [will be created] in manufacture of low-carbon concrete for export markets within three to five years, if our proposals are embraced.
"The research and development needed for new cement technology and carbon capture and storage will require highly skilled jobs and create new, valuable technical expertise," he added.
Ecocem believes that a cement and concrete sector that hits its targets will reduce the costs of carbon compliance on the rest of the economy, enabling job growth in other carbon-intensive industries such as agriculture, while low carbon production would dramatically reduce the environmental and health impact of cement production. It is estimated that those issues cost close to €140m per annum and that they could be reduced by as much as 90pc if the market embraces new ways of producing cement.
In the research that Ecocem presented to the Government earlier this month, the company claimed the industry needed to embrace low carbon technology now as new methods of producing were still a decade or more away.