Biomass boiler lays foundation for carbon neutrality

Friday 13 Sep 2019

Global food producer Danone is planning to cut carbon dioxide emissions at one of its plants in New Zealand by 20,000 tonnes per year, with the installation of a new biomass boiler.

The NZ$30m boiler, which is to be installed at the company’s Nutricia spray drying plant in Balclutha, on the country’s South Island, is the first stage of Danone’s plans to make the facility entirely carbon neutral by 2021. The Balclutha plant processes raw milk sourced from 18 local farms into a powder that is used as the base for the production of its Infant Milk Formula (IMF) brands, including Aptamil and Karicare.

Spray drying plants convert milk into a dry powder using heat from a boiler. As a result, around 85 per cent of the plant’s energy consumption comes from steam production. The new biomass facility will replace the gas or coal typically used as an energy source in boilers with sustainable, locally-sourced wood fuels, according to Cyril Marniquet, Danone’s New Zealand operations director.

“Danone’s biomass boiler at the Balclutha facility will be fuelled by by-products or residue of forestry activity that may ordinarily go to waste,” said Marniquet. “These lumber production by-products, while traditionally disposed of or burned, are valuable sources of heat, steam, and electricity when used in a biomass boiler system.”

With four commercial forests within a 50km radius of the Balclutha plant, the facility will have a reliable source of biofuel, in addition to providing an economic benefit to the local forestry industry, Marniquet said.

“Danone will source fuel from local partners who participate in New Zealand’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme, to ensure fuel is being sourced from sustainably managed forests,” he said. “Danone also plans to broaden its source of fuel to include urban wood waste.”

The boiler is due to be installed by the end of 2020 and will be commissioned in 2021. Resource management company Veolia will design and manage the construction of the biomass boiler.

Source:, Photo: Danone

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