Denmark's cement-producing giant!
Photograph: Aalborg Portland website
Text: Mariano Anthony Davies
Aalborg Portland is Denmark's cement-producing global giant that was established in 1889 by Danish businessman Hans Holm and a Danish engineer Frederik Læssøe Smidt based on the cement patent of the British builder Joseph Aspdin in 1834. The two Danes established the factory in Rørdal – a town northeast of Aalborg.
Aalborg Portland is the only grey and white cement producer in Denmark, with an annual capacity of approximately 3 million tons, of which 2.1 million is grey cement, and 0.9 million is white cement. Grey cement is mainly intended for the domestic market, while white cement is exported to over 70 countries under the AALBORG WHITE® brand.
The Rørdal plant in Aalborg, with its 7 kilns, is one of the largest in Europe and benefits from efficient logistics, being located directly on a fjord near the gypsum quarry and with large limestone reserves inside its perimeter. The plant uses cutting-edge technologies and has one of the most advanced research and development departments in Europe, which has registered numerous patents, including low clinker content cement such as FUTURECEM™.
Environmental sustainability is at the heart of Aalborg Portland's business model, which boasts over a 60% fossil fuel replacement rate for its thermal needs. In addition, the plant currently supplies district heating to over 36,000 homes in the area, which will reach 50,000 by the end of 2022 and the construction of an 8 MW wind farm to meet its electricity needs is also underway.
Right from the start, the Rørdal factory was a very large and modern factory, ideally located by Limfjord. The chalk hills of Aalborg and the unique logistics by Limfjord are still cornerstones of Aalborg Portland's business today. Aalborg Portland has successfully made it through close to 130 years of development, primarily thanks to the people who have dedicated their lives to working in the company and over several generations, have shown their dedication to constantly improve both the products and manufacturing process. This has contributed to putting this Danish cement technology on the world map.
Aalborg Portland has defined specific medium and long-term sustainability objectives in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to promote the circular economy, reduce the impact on the environment, give value to people and communities as well as promote health and safety in the workplace.
"The cement sector has huge sustainability challenges."
By 2030, the Group aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% compared to its 1990 levels. These objectives have been validated by the Science Based Target Initiative and are consistent with the goal of maintaining global warming "well below 2°C". As part of the 2030 roadmap, significant investments in sustainability are planned.
The Group plans to significantly increase the production of low-carbon cement, which enables clinker content reduction and CO2 emissions reduction by approximately 30%. Other sustainable and high-value-added products at an advanced stage of development and commercialisation include Ultra-High-Performance Concrete (UHPC), Glass-Fibre Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) and concrete for 3D printing.
These investments will increasingly include alternative fuels use from a current 40% to 80%, a switch to natural gas and biogas in some plants, an extension of district heating and other energy efficiency projects. There are also initiatives to reduce transport climate change impact and make the best possible use of water resources.
The cement sector has huge sustainability challenges. Concrete is part of everything surrounding us. It has accompanied urbanisation and the development of societies for centuries. Durability, strength, fire resistance and acoustic insulation properties, wide availability of raw materials and low production costs have made cement and concrete among the most widespread building materials on our planet.
Developing innovative low-carbon products and applying circular economy principles, including reuse at the end-of-products life cycle, are challenges facing the cement sector in tackling climate change.
Aalborg Portland is the world's leading white cement player, operating in 18 countries and 5 continents worldwide in the building materials sector.