Sunday, August 14, 2022

Fonterra makes wood biomass switch at Waitoa

Fourth sustainable fuel switching decarbonisation project in as many years for co-op.

Fonterra will replace its coal boiler at its Waitoa factory with a unit that runs on wood biomass as it looks to reduce its carbon footprint.

Work will begin on the new 30-megawatt wood biomass boiler later this year. It is expected to be up and running in November 2023.

The new boiler will reduce the site’s annual emissions by 48,000t of CO2e, the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off New Zealand’s roads. 

Together with Te Tumuaki o Te Kīngitanga and local iwi Ngāti Hauā, the co-operative celebrated the turning of the first sod at the factory site in Waikato.

Fonterra head of energy and climate Linda Mulvihill said this is another significant step towards the co-operative’s sustainability ambitions.

“This is the fourth sustainable fuel switching decarbonisation project in as many years for the co-operative with projects including Te Awamutu and Stirling providing us with insights into the best way forward along with emissions reductions,” Mulvihill said.

Grouped together these projects are forecast to reduce Fonterra’s CO2e emissions by 183,000t a year, the equivalent of 76,000 cars off NZ roads, she said.

The co-operative aims to be at net zero emissions by 2050 and has an interim target of a 30% absolute reduction in manufacturing emissions by 2030 based on FY18 levels.

“Projects such as this make a significant reduction in our emissions. We saw that with our Te Awamutu conversion, which resulted in an 11% reduction, and we’re looking forward to starting our first site on 100% renewable thermal energy next season at the cheese factory in Stirling, Otago,” Mulvihill said.

The new boiler will give a boost to the local wood biomass industry with Wood Energy New Zealand involved with and supporting Fonterra’s shift from coal to biomass.

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