Interview with Ramavtar Somani, Sr. Executive Director, Dalmia Bharat LTD.


Dalmia Bharat Cement Limited (Dalmia Bharat) has set a bold ambition to become carbon negative by 2040. The company has been producing cement in India since 1939 and recently added a highly integrated cement plant in Rajgangpur, India to its repertoire. In a recent interview with Global Cement, Mahendra Singi, Group CEO of Dalmia Bharat proudly shared some of the company’s achievements to date:

Over the past five years, our sustainability efforts have avoided over 17.6 megatonnes of CO2 emissions. We have also reduced our CO2 emissions to 493 kilogrammes per tonne of cement – the global average is 612.

Mahendra Singi

Setting a stellar example


The company has taken a number of steps to get to where it is today. Ramavtar Somani, Senior Executive Director at Dalmia Bharat provides an update on the company’s latest sustainability accomplishments. He says: “In the most recent Global Cement Sector report on the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Dalmia Bharat was ranked number one in the category of business readiness for low carbon economy transition.”

 

Somani explains: “Alternative raw material use is one of the highest at Dalmia Bharat, which subsequently optimises the clinker factor. With clinker production being the most energy-intensive part of the manufacturing process, clinker substitution is pivotal in achieving the 2040 goal.”

 


Driven by dedication


Of course, achieving such an ambitious goal wouldn’t be possible without dedicated people to drive it. The company’s Group CEO has presented its corporate social responsibility (CSR) mission at many different forums, locally and globally. He often shares triumphs and learnings from Dalmia Bharat’s sustainability journey. As a board member of the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), he has the potential to influence others within the industry and beyond. Somani comments: 

The biggest contributing factor to this ambition is the positive mindset of our people, including management, and the aligned business philosophy that clean and green is profitable and sustainable. We want to build a future-ready business that is aligned to all risks and opportunities posed by changing global and regional landscapes.

Ramavtar Somani

Collaborating for change


As the world becomes increasingly connected, various national and international policies incentivising low carbon business operations are in effect. It is therefore, a natural next step for businesses to be proactive instead of waiting around for new, stricter legislation to be passed.

“The policies have reasonable expectations and it is possible to meet them while achieving the primary business objective,” says Somani.

 

Additionally, partnering with like-minded organisations will have a greater impact. At the end of the day, meaningful change is almost impossible without industry-wide collaboration, cooperation, and agreement.

 

It’s no secret that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the global population. As a company, Dalmia Bharat knows it will be better positioned to make a meaningful impact by collaborating at all levels. Some of the organisations it is actively involved with include:

 

  • CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA)
  • We Mean Business
  • The Climate Group
  • Cement Manufacturing Association of India
  • National Council for Cement and Building Materials
  • India Business and Biodiversity Initiatives

 

A mixed response


As word spreads throughout the industry about Dalmia Bharat’s 2040 ambition to become carbon negative, organisations such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United Nations (UN) are sitting up in earnest, waiting to share the journey and using it to set an example for others in the cement industry. “When we announced the ambition of becoming carbon negative in 2040, the UN invited us to the opening day of Global Climate Action, hosted by the UN in Katowice, Poland.”

 

Others are a little more apprehensive, which is understandable considering the cement industry’s reputation of being energy-intensive and, therefore, bad for the environment. Nowadays, state-of-the-art technology and know-how is helping cement manufacturers like Dalmia Bharat achieve never-seen-before sustainability successes. Somani adds: “The apprehension doesn’t deter us. We’ll keep exploring the opportunities to transition to low-carbon cement operations and work towards their realisation. It is a valuable exercise where a lot can be learned and then shared.”

 

 

New plant on the block

 

When it came to building a new, more sustainable plant at the Rajgangpur site, Dalmia Bharat turned to FLSmidth to supply the full flow sheet of equipment and machinery. The equipment and design of the plant were carefully curated for improved process and energy efficiency, maximum potential alternative fuels and raw (AFR) utilisation and reduced heat losses (see table). “Our vision with the Rajgangpur plant was to install the best cement plant in electrical and heat energy efficiency along with sustainable environmental measures that meet global benchmarking,” says Somani.

 

The plant certainly sets new standards for cement production in India in terms of productivity and environmental impact. 

The Rajgangpur plant was designed to minimise its environmental footprint
 Equipment Performance guarantees Operational/system features Sustainable add-ons 
  • Counter Current Cyclone (CCX)
  • JETFLEX® Burner
  • Preheater
  • Preheater cyclones
  • Pre-calciner and calciner
  • NOX guarantees within 600 mgs/Nm3 @ 1% N2 in petcoke firing without use of SNCR
  • SOX guarantees within 100 mgs/Nm3
  • Dust emissions within 10 mgs/Nm3 in ESP and process bag filters

  • Higher kiln slope (4.5 %)
  • Green fuel processing (AFRs) and feeding system
  • Aluminizing and heat resistance painting
  • Expert system fuzzy logic and installation of robotics lab
  • Online calcination system
  • Cross-belt analysers for raw and coal feed circuit
 
  • LED lights for complete plant lighting
  • Waste heat recovery (WHR)
  • Solar power panel system on all building roofs
  • 100% use of petcoke as a main fuel
 

Taking care of business – and the environment


So, is sustainability good for business? Somani is certain that it is, saying: “There cannot be a better way to increase shareholder wealth while addressing environmental concerns as well. The cement industry already helps other industries, such as the thermal power and pharmaceutical industries, address waste generation by taking it and using it as an alternative fuel. This is a win-win scenario. “Here at Dalmia Bharat, our journey will continue to evolve, and when we meet our 2040 ambition, it will be superseded by an even more rigorous one.”

What is carbon negative?

If a production process reaches CO2 neutrality, and additional CO2 is removed from the atmosphere intentionally by the production company, the result is net negative CO2 emissions, hence the term, carbon negative.

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