Fonterra’s Stirling site announces plans to get out of coal


As Minister for Energy and Resources Hon Dr Megan Woods officially opened Fonterra’s wood pellet boiler at its Te Awamutu plant, the Co-operative announced details for its next site to exit coal - Stirling cheese plant in Otago.

Otago’s ‘fantastic little cheese plant’, will be coal free and using wood biomass to fire the site by August next year.

This will make Stirling Fonterra’s first 100% renewable thermal energy site, a significant step towards the Co-op’s goal of getting out of coal all together by 2037.

By switching to wood biomass, the site’s annual emissions will reduce by 18,500 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of taking more than 7,000 cars off the road.

Fonterra General Manager Operations Lower South Island, Richard Gray says it’s another huge decarbonisation milestone for the Co-op.

“Sustainability is at the heart of our strategy, and this project is something that will be good for the environment and local community.”

“As well as the site being coal free there are additional environmental benefits the new boiler will bring, including reduction in wastewater, noise, solid waste to landfill and air discharge emissions.

“There are also economic benefits for the community – the installation will contribute more than $10 million into the region, along with supporting an estimated 10 jobs in the wood biomass industry.”

“Our Stirling site exports to customers in more than 10 countries, including Japan and South Korea, and we’re looking forward to sharing this news with them also.”

The wood biomass will be sourced Pioneer Energy who are locally owned by Central Lakes Trust. The Trust distributes grants to charitable causes in the Central Otago region.

Pioneer Energy CEO, Fraser Jonker says "Pioneer Energy is very proud to be involved with, and to support, Fonterra’s move across from coal to biomass at their facility in Stirling.

“Pioneer Energy has a proven record for the installation of new, and conversion of existing, boilers to biomass, and with our own wood fuel division assuring quality and security of local supply for the fuel, have mitigated any perceived risk of making this very important transition to a low carbon future."

Stirling is the third significant fuel switching project the Co-op has undertaken in as many years.

The conversion of Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site to wood pellets has resulted in a 10% reduction in the Co-op’s coal use, and at Brightwater at the top of the South Island, the team is co-firing wood biomass. These three projects, when combined with our other energy efficiency work, will reduce the Co-op’s emissions by 135,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking close to 52,000 cars off the road. With this latest announcement, eight out of Fonterra’s 29 sites remain to be removed from using coal.

For further information contact:

Anna Johnstone
Phone: +64 21 458 831

Fonterra Communications
24-hour media line
Phone: +64 21 507 072

Back row from left: Christian Jirkowsky General Manager Polytechnik, Fraser Jonker CEO Pioneer Energy, Richard Ireland Pioneer Energy, Fonterra Employees: Todd Downie, Ian Hall and  Craig Sneddon. 

Front row from left: Ingrid Leary MP for Taieri,  Bryan Cadogan Clutha District Mayor,  Richard Gray Fonterra General Manager Operations Lower South Island and Hannah Furze, Stirling Senior Environmental Manager. 

Fonterra Te Awamutu Operations Manager Marc Carney, Minister for Energy and Resources Hon Dr Megan Woods, Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell and Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Alan Van Der Nagel at the official opening of the Te Awamutu wood pellet boiler.