Fonterra to electrify Stirling site


Fonterra today announced it is transitioning from coal to renewable energy at its Stirling site in Otago. 

With no gas or feasible alternatives available in the South Island, Fonterra has used coal in its plants to ensure it can process its highly perishable milk.  

Reinforcing the shift toward renewable energy, Fonterra has also surrendered its Mangatangi coal mining permit, divested nearly 50% of land acquired for coal mining and will no longer mine coal.

The new moves are part of the pathway Fonterra mapped out with the Government last year to achieve net-zero emissions across its manufacturing sites by 2050.

Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s COO Global Operations, said these latest initiatives show Fonterra’s commitment to a net-zero emissions future and that the Co-operative is playing its role in helping the country meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

“Our targets are ambitious and our commitment to meeting them is resolute because there is no alternative with climate change,” Mr Spurway said. “With 30 manufacturing sites across the country the challenge ahead of us is clear but we understand the importance of getting on with it to help the country meet its international (climate change) obligations.”

“We’re confident that our continued investment in technology will help us achieve our targets and encourage others to invest in new technologies and innovation too. Achieving New Zealand’s climate ambitions requires a sustained and collaborative approach with business, Government and NGO’s.”

By year’s end, Fonterra will have divested a total of 296 hectares of land that had been acquired for coal mining – an area the combined size of Christchurch’s Hagley Park, the Auckland Domain and New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park. Planning is underway for the change of energy supply at Stirling and learnings from this project will then be replicated across similar sites.

“The juggle of meeting our commitments by 2050, ensuring we don’t disrupt the processing of our farmers fresh milk, getting the right information and finding the best technology to make these changes at sites is a logistical tightrope,” Mr Spurway said.

He noted the momentum Fonterra has already built this year to make the changes, including:

  • A switch to co-firing biomass at the Brightwater site near Nelson, due to go live by November.
  • Reduction in use of groundwater by 70% at its Darfield plant.
  • And at Pahiatua site, the introduction of an employee’s innovative idea for water recycling, leading to a saving of 500,000 litres of water a day.     

“We’re serious about supporting New Zealand’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the global goal of keeping temperature change to well below 2 degrees,” Mr Spurway said.