Interview with Urs Herzog, Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland
Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland
Power Solutions & New Technologies,
Prior to the ener.CON Europe 2014, we spoke to Urs Herzog Power Solutions & New Technologies,
Assistant Vice-President, Holcim Technology Ltd / Switzerland
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
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.
Which challenges do you foresee will take place in
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
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.
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
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
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
Main challenge is to build simple, cost effective small power
plants with reasonable conversion efficiencies operating at low
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.
How different will be the energy efficiency management for
asset intensive industries in the year 2020 compared to
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
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).
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:
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
we.CONECT Global Leaders GmbH
10178 Berlin, Germany