New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra says an initiative at its Brightwater site is set to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 25%.

It said its link up with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which has provided funding support for the project, will significantly reduce the site’s reliance on coal.

A conversion is about to get underway on Brightwater’s existing coal boiler, adding capacity to burn wood biomass to generate steam.

The move will cut emissions from the factory by around 2,400 tonnes a year – roughly the same as taking 530 cars off the road, Fonterra – the world’s largest dairy exporter – suggests.

Fonterra chief operating officer global operations Robert Spurway says the move to a co-fired boiler decreases reliance on fossil fuels and is a significant step towards achieving Fonterra’s emission reduction targets.

 “Last year we joined forces with the Ministry for the Environment to develop a road map to a low emissions future, which included a commitment to undertake a demonstration of co-firing wood biomass with coal at one of our sites,” he said.

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 “Now, with the support of EECA, we’re putting our co-firing strategy into action. Brightwater’s transition to a lower emission energy source is a tangible step toward achieving our target of reducing our global operations emissions by 30% by 2030, and our longer-term goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

EECA business group manager market engagement Greg Visser says the boiler technology has the potential to be a sustainability game-changer.

“This is exactly the type of demonstration project that EECA looks to support. Our funding helps de-risk investment in new technology application where there are big emissions reductions on offer.  It’s a great opportunity for replication across Fonterra – and by others looking to adopt this technology to save energy,” he said.

 The move to convert the existing coal boiler at Brightwater follows a successful trial that was undertaken in 2017. It is expected that the boiler will be able to co-fire with wood biomass by October this year.