2022 was a challenging year from an energy perspective.
Electrification and energy reuse are key to meeting our carbon reduction goals.
Securing our energy supply
The global energy crisis added an extra dimension to our energy optimisation and decarbonisation plans at our production sites in 2022. In addition to investigating new initiatives and investments to meet our carbon reduction goals, we found ourselves in the position of having to secure sufficient energy supplies to keep our production running.
Due to the risk of a natural gas shortage, it was necessary to prepare our Danmark Protein and ARINCO plants for running on fuel oil. Consequently, the production lines at Danmark Protein switched partially to fuel oil in the fourth quarter of the year, with biogas covering 39% of total gas needs through 2022. ARINCO continues to use a combination of natural gas and biogas for the time being – using 44% biogas this year. The transition to fuel oil is a temporary measure until the energy crisis subsides.
Reorganisation under Greenify
During 2022, we reorganised our energy workstream under a new heading – Greenify – covering our three fullyowned production sites, supply chain development, research & development and reporting & tracking.
Creating data transparency has been a priority this year, as we have worked to establish a company-wide overview of ongoing energy projects and the ensuing impact on carbon emissions. Availability of reliable data gives us the basis for comparing and prioritising energy initiatives and better sharing of knowledge and experience between sites.
Through our collaboration with Arla, we are now working with supplier-driven assessments as part of a multi-site continuous improvement programme. Rollout of LED lighting, steam valve insulation and pump replacement are the three energy-saving focus areas we have worked with in 2022. New focus areas have been identified for 2023.
Our carbon reduction goals mean energy considerations are increasingly integrated in all other continuous improvement initiatives at our sites, such as this year’s installation of a new water treatment unit for ice water at ARINCO.
In 2023, we aim to develop a sustainability programme for each of our sites. This will support our roadmap towards decarbonisation and the development of a capital investment plan for transforming the energy management system. Site workshops and energy mapping assessments will be run to identify further initiatives.
The move to electrification
The transition away from fossil-based fuels necessitates the electrification of our production processes. As industrial heat pump technology matures, we are now investigating the possibility to integrate heat pumps in our heating and cooling systems at Danmark Protein – a complex project that requires significant investment.
In 2022, we have focused on designing the specifications for using heat pumps to produce both 90°C hot water and ice water. This work will continue through 2023, with implementation planned for 2024. The expectation is the heat pumps will then cover 11% of the site’s energy needs, running on green power supplied through a group-level power purchase agreement.
Looking ahead, the emergence of new power-to-x technology will support the use of electricity for a wider range of needs. In preparation, Danmark Protein will be the first site in the Arla group to instal a 15MW electric boiler in 2023. Located alongside the existing gas-fired boilers, the electric boiler will be able to switch between electricity and gas. The technology will be adapted for use at other Arla plants following an evaluation of results.
Heat recovery and reuse
The expansion of Danmark Protein is critical to our company’s future growth. For this purpose, we launched a utility master plan in 2021 to develop the plant’s infrastructure. Heat recovery and reuse is a key element.
One initiative in progress is the development of an energy water system in filtration areas. For this purpose, we are building a 90°C system to recover heat from the plant’s biogas motors and, eventually, from heat pumps. The system will then provide hot water for various heating purposes that currently rely on steam – for example for heating air in the spray-drying towers. The energy water system should become available to all filtration areas at the site during 2024. Potential CO2 savings are estimated at 2,400 tonnes.
Over the past year, we also completed the construction of a redistribution system for 60°C surplus heat generated by the four compressor stations at Danmark Protein. The connection of the last remaining compressor station to the system means it can now heat the lactose and hydrolysate departments, replacing the gas-fired steam heating system. Total energy savings from the system are equivalent to the heating requirements of 159 average Danish households – a saving of 632 tons CO2.
In Germany, our joint venture site ArNoCo is preparing to pilot the use of ultrasound to remove deposits from the heat exchanger in lactose production. The goal is to reduce steam consumption during production – bringing an anticipated energy saving of at least 250,000KWh a year. Following an evaluation of results, the technology will be adapted for use at other Arla plants.
At AFISA in Argentina, a project to recover nitric acid solution from the cleaning in place (CIP) system is planned for kickoff in 2023. Significant energy savings are expected from reusing the pre-warmed cleaning agent in more CIP processes. Nitric acid consumption will also be reduced by around 50%.