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Falkenberg Energi and Arla Foods break ground on bioheat plant

Falkenberg Energi and Arla Foods break ground on bioheat plant
A collaborative groundbreaking was held on September 7, 2023, for a new bioheat plant in Falkenberg with Markus Bengtsson (left) Acting CEO at Falkenberg Energi; Gustav Jansson, CEO of AKJ Energiteknik, and Christian Svensson, Site Manager at Arla Foods Falkenberg Dairy.

In Sweden, municipal energy utility Falkenberg Energi AB and Arla Foods Falkenberg Dairy, part of European dairy major Arla, have held a groundbreaking ceremony marking start of construction for a new biomass-fired heat plant adjacent to the Arla Foods facility. Once completed, it will provide Europe's largest cottage cheese production facility with renewable process heat while enabling the expansion of the district heating network in Falkenberg for Falkenberg Energi.

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Arla Foods Falkenberg Dairy is part of the international dairy and food ingredients major Arla Foods which is owned by more than 8,400 farmers from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.

In Sweden, the Group currently has eleven dairies primarily located in southern and central Sweden including Falkenberg which is located on the southwest coast.

Opened in 1965, Arla Foods Falkenberg Dairy employs around 110 staff and is currently Europe’s largest dedicated cottage cheese production facility processing around 100,000 tonnes of milk annually.

Security of supply

As a process industry, uninterrupted energy supply is a key consideration while as a Group, alignment with its Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) approved greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitments is another.

In 2017 the company initiated discussions with municipal energy company Falkenberg Energi on replacing two gas-fired steam boilers that have been in service at the dairy since 1965.

Falkenberg Energi currently supplies approximately 70 GWh of renewable district heat annually and is expanding its network in the municipality.

The discussions landed in Falkenberg Energi investing in a new bioheat plant on a greenfield site owned by Arla Foods adjacent to the dairy. Using locally sourced logging residues, the 5 MW plant will supply 1.5 to 2 MW hot water to the dairy for process heat and space heating with the balance supplied to the district heating network.

The new bioheat plant, which has been awarded a SEK 21.15 million (≈ EUR 1.78 million) investment grant from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Step (Klimatklivet) program, is expected to be completed during the latter half of 2024.

An artist’s rendering of the 5 MW bioheat plant that is being built by Falkenberg Energi adjacent to Arla Foods Falkenberg Dairy in Falkenberg. The boiler house will be clad with a distinctive oxidized facade while the fuel storage area will be clad in expanded metal (image courtesy Reng Consulting/Norconsult).

Unmanned operation

The entire facility is aesthetically designed in keeping with the surrounding industrial zone and will be a fully automatic unmanned operation. The biomass fuel will be delivered by truck and supplied already chipped by truck and a feature is the fully enclosed fuel receiving, storage, and handling area.

The facility is designed for high operational availability and environmental performance. At the same time, it is future-proofed with space prepared for a possible future flue gas condenser, and/or power generation using an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbine.

The engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract was awarded to AKJ Energiteknik AB, a leading contractor specializing in customer-specific biomass-fired thermal oil, water, and steam boiler plants for commercial, industrial- and municipal applications.

The scope of supply includes ground preparation and foundation work, frame, superstructure, scales, fuel handling with overhead crane, woodchip-fired hot water boiler with Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) for NOx reduction, back-up biogas boiler, accumulator tank, flue gas treatment with electric filter, reserve power unit, pipes, electrical work, control and monitoring system with Citect.

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