July 16, 2024

Meeting the Kenyan cement industry’s sustainability goals

2 min read

The Kenyan cement industry forms an important part of the country’s continued infrastructure development, actively contributing to the construction of buildings, roads and other essential infrastructure.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, cement demand in 2022 surged by a remarkable 18%, while production increased from six to 10 million tonnes in just five years (2018–2022).

However, the industry is also inherently energy-intensive, relying heavily on the national grid to meet its operational demands.

Kenya is one of the African continent’s shining beacons when it comes to the adoption of green technology, which is why it’s vitally important that its cement industry transitions toward a sustainability posture, enabled by energy management and efficiency.

To reach its sustainability goals, the industry will have to overcome one pertinent challenge: the high cost of clinker. The import duties of clinker are set to increase with 15%, reaching 25% in the coming months, which will inflate production costs. Clinker is an important binding ingredient in the cement manufacturing process.

The good news is there is also investment in local clinker production expansion such as Lafarge-Holcim’s Bamburi Cement plant in Kwale, and Savanna Cement’s $500-million complex in Kitui County. 

The move toward a greener industry

Despite the above-mentioned challenges, there is also a noticeable shift toward sustainability within the industry. Important developments include:

  • Renewable energy – Bamburi Cement signed a power purchase agreement with MOMNAI Power to supply solar-generated energy, reducing its reliance on fossil fuel power. 
  • Mombasa Cement, part of the Nyumba Group, established a 36MW wind farm to support its Vipingo integrated cement plant. This transition to renewable energy sources reduces the carbon footprint of cement production.
  • New grinding technologies – cement producers are adopting vertical roller mill (VRM) technology, increasing energy efficiency by reducing power consumption by 30% for the same cement output. VRMs also offer better quality and reliability.
  • Digitisation – cement producers are embracing analytic software for optimised asset and plant utilisation. Investments in power management software and asset advisers are becoming more common.
  • Modern technologies for grinding and calcination improve resource utilisation and energy efficiency.

Schneider Electric can play an important role in helping the Kenyan cement industry achieve its sustainability and energy efficiency goals through technologies such as:

  • Variable frequency drives (VFDs) – Schneider Electric’s VFDs are utilised in cement manufacturing to drive crushers, fans, separators and kilns, resulting in over 50% energy savings. Large fans, accounting for 30% to 50% of energy consumption in cement plants, benefit significantly from VFDs.
  • Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture facilitates sustainable cement operations by collecting data across various plant assets and processes. This data is then used to optimise plant operations and resource utilisation.
  • Renewable energy support – Schneider Electric provides reliable switchgear, power products and solar inverters, supporting cement producers in their transition to renewable energy sources.

Pius Nzethe

Mining, Minerals & Metals Segment Leader

Schneider Electric East Africa

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