Solar lighting and heat transfer technology has helped Fonterra’s Edendale facility to be the most energy efficient dairy manufacturing site nationally.
The site has become the first dairy processing facility in the country to be awarded four stars in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s (EECA).One2five ratings. The ratings measure energy, carbon and sustainability and provide a benchmark for businesses to compare themselves with other parts of the industry.
Southern operations manager Richard Gray said energy efficiency was always at the front of minds at Fonterra sites.
“Since the co-operative began its energy efficiency programme in 2003, the Edendale site has reduced its energy intensity by 48 per cent per tonne of product. Dairy is an energy intensive business, so this reduction is significant both for Fonterra and for New Zealand.”
“We’re continually challenging our staff to find ways to reduce our energy intensity – every little bit helps and we have more than 20 different energy saving programmes underway across the site. Recent additions have included solar lighting through to new heat recovery technology introduced in last year’s site expansion that captures and recycles the heat from our processes, which eliminated the need for a new boiler.”
These initiatives were recognised at last week’s New Zealand Sustainable Business Network Awards, where the site received a judges’ commendation in the business energy management category.
Fonterra’s Edendale site completed an expansion project early this year, which started in 2014. The project increased processing capacity by 1.4 million litres a day to more than 16 million litres, making it the largest dairy processing site in the world.
Fonterra uses coal as its main energy source in all its South Island factories and coal and gas in its North Island plants. The Edendale factory uses about 1000 tonnes of Southland lignite a year as an energy source to run its boilers.
Wastewater from all 13 processing plants at Edendale is pumped to the wastewater treatment plant on the factory’s northern boundary which was commissioned earlier this year.
Fonterra director of social responsibility Carolyn Mortland said the Edendale site showed what could be achieved by being efficient and sustainable.
“Our co-operative has made a commitment to reducing energy intensity at sites by 20 per cent of our 2003 levels, by the year 2020. The results that the team at Edendale have achieved are proof that we are on the right track to achieving that goal for the good of all New Zealanders.”
The co-operative’s Edendale site processes cheddar and whey cheese, anhydrous milk fat, milk protein concentrate, casein and skim, whole, fat-filled and butter milk powder.