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Energy and carbon emissions

Sugar production is an energy-intensive process. Beet expenses aside, energy is our highest cost. We therefore have a long-standing commitment to reduce our energy consumption. We achieve this by continuously improving the effectiveness of the sugar production processes and by investing in new innovative energy-saving projects.

nordzucker

Using energy efficiently

Most of our production factories are equipped with their own highly efficient power plants. This means our factories produce the steam and electricity required for the sugar manufacturing process. In some cases, they generate surplus electricity, which is delivered to the local grid.  

The power plants – the boilers - burn fossil fuels (oil, gas or coal) to produce steam, and electricity required for the sugar manufacturing process. The boilers release carbon emissions, as well as air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). We are taking steps to minimise emissions from our boilers, including substituting fuels for cleaner alternatives where possible. Read more about emissions from Boilers

We are looking at the possibility of further reducing carbon emission from our boilers by installing bivalent operating systems when existing boilers need to be reconstructed or new boilers are installed. Bivalent operating systems use either natural gas or oil. Natural gas usage emits less CO2 than oil and coal combustion. These systems are already in place in our German factories where natural gas is used.  

In recent years we have optimized the biogas production of our anaerobic wastewater treatment plants. The biogas produced there can be burned in the boilers, reducing CO2 emissions by up to five per cent in some plants.

Steam dryers

Drying pulp process in Nordzucker production plants is performed by 55% in modern steam dryers. These save energy by reusing steam generated by the sugar production process. To close the circle, the steam generated during the drying process is reused in sugar production.  

In 2012/13, we installed a steam dryer in Nakskov (Denmark). A similar steam dryer has been installed in Örtofta (Sweden) during the sugar production campaign in 2014.

Other energy-saving initiatives

Other examples of recent energy-saving projects include the sixth-step evaporation station in Säkylä (Finland). Sugar juice is concentrated in a multi-step evaporator. Water evaporated as steam in the first step is used for heating the next evaporation step. The more steps the evaporation process has, the more energy efficient the process is. The sixth-step in Säkylä has saved us about 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

In Poland, we expanded the evaporation system to include a sixth step and invested in a new heat exchanger, which together contributed to savings of around 6,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Impact

Since 2010, energy consumption has decreased from index 100% (2010 = 100%) to index 78%. 2015 was an extraordinary year in which sugar production was reduced by nearly 1/3 compared to plan leading, thus, to a rise in the energy index.

Energy impacts

In 2010, we set a target to reduce our total amount of energy used per tonne of sugar by 45 per cent by 2020, with 1990 as baseline. We have already achieved this target in 2013.

In 2016, new ambitious energy and emission reduction targets for 2020 have been implemented. Our 2020 aim is to reduce our energy consumption by 10% per tonne sugar (ww) compared to 2014 (50% compared to 1990) and to reduce our CO2 emission by 10% per tonne sugar (ww) compared to 2014 (68% compared to 1990). In addition, Green House Gas emissions by the agricultural processes are intended to be reduced in accordance with the 20.20.20 project.

The installation of the steam dryer in Nakskov saves us 160 tonnes of coal daily and reduces our CO2 emission by 50,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The yearly estimated savings for the steam dryer in Örtofta (Sweden) is calculated to be about 130 GWh and we expect it to reduce our CO2 emissions by 27,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

* Due to a natural variation in sugar content which influences the amount of energy required for extraction, we have normalised our energy consumption target by assuming a sugar content of 17.5%t for all beets grown in the Nordzucker region.

Carbon impacts

Our target for 2020 is to reduce our total CO2 emissions per tonne of sugar by 65 per cent with 1990 as baseline. The graph shows our progress towards this target since 2010

The target requires us to reduce our CO2 emissions to 359 kg of CO2 per tonne sugar. By the end of 2016 emissions were as high as 389 kg CO2 per tonne sugar produced. A reduction of 7.7% in the following years will allow our target of CO2 emissions reduction to be met in 2020.

2015 was an extraordinary year in which sugar production was reduced by nearly 1/3 compared to plan, which led to a consequent increase in energy need and, therefore, emissions.

In 2016, new ambitious energy and emission reduction targets for 2020 have been implemented. Our 2020 aim is to reduce our energy consumption by 10% per tonne sugar (ww) compared to 2014 and to reduce our CO2 emission by 10% per tonne sugar (ww) compared to 2014. In addition, we will reduce our Green House Gas emission from the agricultural part of our business according to the 20.20.20 project. With high and stable yields, the green house gas emissions will decrease.

* We define total CO2 emissions as a combination of CO2 from direct sources (combustion in our own power plants) and CO2 from indirect sources (bought electricity, bought heat and steam).