Fonterra (Electric Milk)

Fonterra has conducted a feasibility study of how it could displace all of the coal use at its Edendale manufacturing site in Southland with electricity. This has provided the technical insight and a pathway to make the transition possible.

Fonterra needs to transition to using renewable energy, such as wood biomass and electricity. For both of these, the scale of Fonterra’s thermal energy use has been a hurdle for adoption, as well as the operational and capital costs of switching.

Fonterra carried out this ‘Electric Milk’ study together with representatives from Transpower, University of Waikato, Massey University and SRD Consulting. The study showed that initial electrification steps could achieve a 30% reduction in emissions.  Total energy use at the site would be reduced by a further 22%.

The study showed that it could be technically possible to fully displace coal use at the site with electricity use, but that it would have a significant cost to do so and it would trigger a grid upgrade. This work has provided a comprehensive philosophy on how Fonterra’s manufacturing processes can further improve to reduce both energy and emissions.

Fonterra intends to apply the learnings to the remainder of its coal sites over the next year and then across its gas sites, to develop emission reduction pathways for every site.