Fonterra is taking another step towards its low carbon transition with its Waitoa site in the Waikato planning to install a 30 megawatt wood biomass boiler to replace a coal boiler.

Together with Te Tumuaki o Te Kīngitanga and local iwi Ngāti Hauā, the Co-operative has just celebrated the turning of the first sod at Waitoa.

Work will begin on the new boiler installation later this year, and it is expected to be up and running in November 2023. The new boiler will reduce the site’s annual emissions by 48,000 tonnes of CO2e, the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off New Zealand’s roads.

Fonterra Head of Energy and Climate, Linda Mulvihill says this is another significant step towards the Co-operative’s sustainability ambitions.

“This is the fourth sustainable fuel switching decarbonisation project in as many years for the Co-operative with projects including Te Awamutu and Stirling providing us with insights into the best way forward along with emissions reductions.

Grouped together these projects reduce our CO2e emissions by a forecast 183,000 tonnes per annum, the equivalent of 76,000 cars off NZ roads.”

The Co-operative has an ambition to be at net zero emissions by 2050 and has an interim target of a 30% absolute reduction in manufacturing emissions by 2030 based on FY18 level.

“Projects such as this make a significant reduction in our emissions. We saw that with our Te Awamutu conversion, which resulted in an 11% reduction and we’re looking forward to starting our first site on 100% renewable thermal energy next season at the cheese factory in Stirling, Otago,” says Mulvihill.

The new boiler will give a boost to the local wood biomass industry.

Wood Energy New Zealand Director, Nigel Ellett says: “Wood Energy New Zealand is very proud to be involved with, and to support, Fonterra’s move across from coal to biomass at their facility in Waitoa, and growing our supply footprint into the North Island.

“The Wood Energy New Zealand partnership, between Pioneer Energy and Niagara Sawmilling, was created to support industry and ensure quality and security of locally sourced wood fuel, removing risk to our customers and supporting their transition to a lower carbon future.”

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