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Fonterra begins co-firing at Brightwater

In New Zealand, the country's largest company, global dairy major Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd has begun co-firing coal with woodchips at its Brightwater milk processing plant in Nelson, South Island. The newly converted boiler was officially switched n by the Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Dr Megan Woods.

In New Zealand, the country’s largest company, global dairy major Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd has begun co-firing coal with woodchips at its Brightwater milk processing plant in Nelson, South Island. The newly converted boiler was officially switched on by the Dr Megan Woods (centre) Minister of Energy and Resources (photo courtesy Minister Dr Woods).

The conversion slashes the amount of coal used and cuts carbon emissions at the site by around 25 percent or 2 400 tonnes a year. With support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), Fonterra has achieved a significant step in the Road Map to Transition to a Low Emissions Future, developed with the Ministry for the Environment last year.

Andrew Caseley, EECA’s Chief Executive, says that this project demonstrates how co-firing can be used now to reduce energy emissions for process heat.

Co-firing has wide potential for replication with other businesses that use coal boilers, with the ultimate goal of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, said Andrew Caseley.

Robert Spurway, Fonterra COO Global Operations, says the Brightwater boiler conversion is part of Fonterra’s plan to reduce emissions across all sites.

We’re serious about supporting New Zealand’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the global goal of keeping temperature change to well below 2 degrees. Achieving New Zealand’s climate ambitions requires a sustained and collaborative approach with business, Government and NGO’s. EECA support for the Brightwater boiler conversion is an example of how we can successfully work together to achieve positive outcomes for the environment. We’ll take what we learn from this conversion and apply it to our longer-term co-firing strategy for other boilers across the country. Brightwater shows what’s possible when it comes to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, said Robert Spurway adding that curtailing emissions requires a multi-faceted approach.

According to Spurway, New Zealand has an “enviable history” of taking a leadership position when it comes to important global issues.

We’re serious about meeting our targets to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 across all New Zealand operations. Achieving them will involve a combination of energy options and energy efficiency gains. On the electrification front, we’ve been exploring a number of options. We’ve completed a feasibility study to convert our Edendale operations to electricity and in August announced our plan to replace coal with electricity at our Stirling site in South Otago, said Robert Spurway.

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