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Plans to move to renewable energy at Fonterra's Stirling Site updated

  • July 01, 2020
  • 4 min read

Following a comprehensive study into using electricity to replace coal at its Stirling site in Southland, the Co-operative has found wood biomass to be a more viable option.

Fonterra Sustainable Energy and Utility Manager Linda Thompson says sustainability’s at the heart of Fonterra’s strategy and the Co-op is committed to getting out of coal at the site.

“We’ve learnt a lot about the practicalities of electrification over the past couple of years.

“It’s important when we’re looking at projects like this that we continually review the best way forward, environmentally and economically.

“In this case we’ve found that retrofitting existing systems for using electricity is not a viable option and we now see wood biomass as a better option for this site. This is because it’s a renewable source of energy and requires fewer changes to existing infrastructure.”

When looking at transitioning manufacturing operations to sustainable energy sources there are several considerations the Co-operative looks to meet.

These are:

  1. The ability to process all farmers’ milk
  2. Ensuring the business remains economically viable in a globally competitive market
  3. The long-term security of supply of alternative energy sources
  4. The impact of ongoing operational costs of using alternative energy sources
  5. Sustainability considerations

Linda says they’ll now take what they’ve learnt from this project, along with analysis of other sites, to develop what long-term transition plans might look like across Fonterra’s entire manufacturing network. 

Other projects the Co-op has undertaken as it works towards a low carbon future are the co-firing of its boiler with wood biomass at the Brightwater site and the transition to wood pellets at its Te Awamutu site.