Fonterra is one of New Zealand’s largest energy users and has committed to shifting to 100% renewable energy for its manufacturing operations.
Following a successful trial in 2019 the cooperative initiated a project to convert the 43MW coal boiler at its Te Awamutu site to use wood pellets. The boiler is used for steam and hot water production in the manufacturing process. The conversion will reduce CO2 emissions by about 84,000 tonnes a year, which is equivalent to removing about 32,000 cars off the road. It will also reduce Fonterra’s coal usage in New Zealand by 10%.
The project demonstrates how wood biomass can be used to displace coal use at manufacturing sites, and that wood biomass can be produced at scale. The wood pellets are made from wood waste, shavings, sawdust, and off-cuts. The production process uses geothermal energy.
The Te Awamutu project contributes 16% towards Fonterra’s 2030 goal for reducing emissions.