Interview with Urs Herzog, Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland


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Prior to the ener.CON Europe 2014, we spoke to Urs Herzog Power Solutions & New Technologies, Assistant Vice-President, Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland

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Interview with Urs Herzog, Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland

  1. 1. Interview Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland Urs Herzog Power Solutions & New Technologies, Assistant Vice-President Prior to the ener.CON Europe 2014, we spoke to Urs Herzog Power Solutions & New Technologies, Assistant Vice-President, Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland we.CONECT: In your opinion - what are the main current energy efficiency challenges and trends regarding the management and optimization of asset intensive industries and what are the specific challenges related to your company? Urs Herzog: Due to the fact that energy prices are increasing over the long term (in general), energy efficiency is and will be the critical competition factor for industrial manufacturing. The pressure to reduce CO2 emissions (in many countries by legislation) emphasizes the requirement to improve energy efficiency. Main challenge for asset intensive industries is the “scarcity of financial resources”. Investments required to improve energy efficiency compete with production expansion projects. In our company the “low-hanging fruits” in energy efficiency have been “harvested”. – Further improvements require installations of complex systems and are expensive to realize. Such projects have payback periods in the range above 5 years and are therefore nowadays very difficult to justify. we.CONECT: Which challenges do you foresee will take place in 2014/2015 concerning energy efficiency regulations/standards and requirements (i.e. requirements that derive from the EED)? Urs Herzog: Energy efficiency directives have the inherent advantage that the whole industry has to move and invest. Short term competitive advantages by lagers (those companies who save investment cost) are avoided. As mentioned above our industry is active since years to improve energy efficiency. This is based on the fact that energy represents roughly 40% of production cost (see figure) Which main regulations and certifications influenced your work in the past 12 months and which ones will be important in the future Urs Herzog: Energy consumption and efficiency monitoring is established in our industry since years. Main motivation is the high energy cost contribution as stated above. In Europe ISO 150001 “Energy” added an additional task to manufacturing site personnel. The documentation according ISO is a standardized reporting which must be done to comply with the regulation. we.CONECT: How do you measure and analyze the cost-benefit ratio of energy efficiency management? Urs Herzog: For all rationalization investment ideas, a business case must be developed and be presented to the regional decision body. Payback or IRR are the critical parameters. The company focuses on projects with paybacks less than 5 years. Efficiency or renewable energy regulations, incentives or taxbreaks help to lower payback period. we.CONECT: Your presentation will focus on: “Power Generation using Waste Exhaust Gas Streams Experiences made in Cement Industries”. Could you briefly introduce us to the topic and its key leanings? Urs Herzog: Cement manufacturing is in the first step high temperature burning process. The cement kiln emit on the exhaust and cooler side abundant amount of gas and air with temperatures in the range of 250 to 390°C. In the past this exhaust gas streams where used for material drying and the excess was released via stack in the atmosphere (see figure). Figure: heat balance of a modern cement kiln Figure: Typical energy cost contribution in relation to total production cost we.CONECT: In regions where the electrical power price are high (approximately > 100€/MWh) or a power grid is not available cement companies invest in small power generation systems using these exhaust gas streams as primary energy. Power
  2. 2. generation is either based on a conventional steam turbine cycle or since recently on Organic-Rankine-Cycle (ORC) system. This technology is widespread in Japan and China where power prices are high. But since a few years some cement companies investigate the option to use this technology in Asia, Europe or the Americas. CO2 and renewable energy regulation is an additional lever to make this technology economical viable for the industry. Main challenge is to build simple, cost effective small power plants with reasonable conversion efficiencies operating at low input temperatures. The use of this waste heat recovery technology is not limited to cement. It can be applied in other industries as for example iron & steel, pulp & paper, food, biogas motors, chemical, etc. we.CONECT: How different will be the energy efficiency management for asset intensive industries in the year 2020 compared to today’s situation? Urs Herzog: International organizations like IEA (International Energy Agency) predict a continuous increase of energy prices until 2020 and beyond. Especially for commodity industries like cement, the pressure to improve overall energy efficiency will continue (see also figure) Energy consumption and efficiency monitoring and optimization will be an integral part of process control and not an add-on as it is today. Future energy management system will control all energy streams (e.g. solid fuel, liquid fuel, gas, electricity, cold sources) in an integrated way and not on an individual basis. Figure: The European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) predicts a contentious improvement of energy efficiency in cement production we.CONECT: Which challenge/topic would you like to discuss with your peers / other delegates at the ener.CON Europe 2014? Urs Herzog: Does process and manufacturing industries mainly focus on energy efficiency, or is the investment in own power generation systems an option they consider viable (e.g. cogeneration or power from renewable sources as solar and wind). we.CONECT: Thanks a lot for this interview! Interview Partner: Peter Haack and Urs Herzog. Urs Herzog, born in Switzerland, holds a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering and Electronics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. He started his career as computer based process control specialist in public and private research institutes. In 1986, he joined "Holderbank" (now Holcim Ltd), a major global cement producer, as control engineer developing innovative Process Control and Technical Information Systems. In 1992, Urs Herzog worked for 12 month as project manager in a cement plant in Mexico. He was nominated Head of Electrical and Process Control Technology in 1996, building-up an expert team on energy management. Since 2012, he is responsible for the field “Energy” with focus on power sourcing and new technology solutions at Holcim Technology Ltd, Switzerland. ener.CON Europe is the leading event for improving energy efficiency for asset intensive industries in Europe. Information about the event and about we.CONECT can be found at: Contact: Stefanie Nawrocki Program Manager I Corporate, IT & Manufacturing Division Phone: +49 (0)30 52 10 70 3 – 47 Fax: +49 (0)30 52 10 70 3 – 30 Email: we.CONECT Global Leaders GmbH Gertraudenstr. 10-12 10178 Berlin, Germany