BLOG ARTICLE: 29/03/2022

Presentation focuses on net zero journey


Presentation focuses on net zero journey

It is essential that the ceramics sector works collectively to tackle the step change needed to meet net zero targets as the current energy crisis continues to damage the industry’s international competitiveness, according to the British Ceramic Confederation’s former Chief Executive.

Dr Laura Cohen was invited to join a range of speakers at a conference hosted by The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. The half-day event, COP26 and Beyond, aimed to consider the main outcomes of the summit, the implications of the key commitments and pledges and discuss what was missing and debate the next steps.

After the event, Laura said: “I was delighted to be asked to speak as it provided a great platform on which to air the pressing issues that currently face the ceramics sector. The energy crisis, war in Ukraine, gas security and the journey to net zero are putting more and more pressure on a foundation industry that employs around 17,500 directly in the UK and supports essential sectors in our economy.”

Laura’s presentation, ‘Opportunities and Challenges for the Foundation Industries’, explored the issues that lie ahead, especially the journey to net zero, while highlighting the essential policy changes that are needed now by Government to navigate the consequences of the current energy crisis and war in Ukraine.

With the typical kiln operating lifetime of 25 to 40 years, access to low carbon compatible infrastructure and equipment is needed by at least 2025 to keep the sector on track to reach net zero by 2050.

Laura told the audience that one difficulty the industry faced was that most of the UK ceramic manufacturing sites are located away from the Government’s designated hydrogen and Carbon Capture Use and Storage clusters.

She said: “The Government has said they want to ‘level up’ outside London and almost all these ceramic factories are in areas in need of ‘levelling up’.

“To meet the targets, the whole ceramics sector needs a radical, accelerated step-change in operations. Incremental changes are not enough. The diverse nature of the sector means that multiple deep decarbonisation technology solutions need to be developed, demonstrated and deployed at pace. The programme needs to cover all ceramic manufacturing. This is too expensive, risky and complex for individual companies to fund. Collective working is essential.”

She added: “We need a partnership with Government tailored to our sector to support decarbonisation that allows UK industry to be internationally competitive throughout the process. Every site needs a route through, and the infrastructure available locally.”