Energy-savings pays off more than ever

InnovationStoriesSustainabilityThursday, 01 Sep 2022

Royal Avebe is reducing its environmental impact through strategic sustainability programmes. Erik Koops is the programme manager for the CO2 and energy reduction programme. He sees opportunities in energy-saving and electrification of processes.

Energy Savings

According to Koops, the approach takesplace via three fronts: “Firstly, we invest inrenewing processes, especially those most energy-intensive. Secondly, we optimise existing processes. Finally, there is what we describe as “good housekeeping”. This also stimulates awareness of further energy-saving opportunities.” As an example of investments that yield strong CO2 reductions, Koops mentions the application of membrane technology. If we first concentrate the product using membranes, much less energy is needed for heating, drying and evaporation.
Examples include the Ducam project in Ter Apelkanaal, ultrafiltration in the new protein factory in Dallmin and membrane installations at Solanic.

“By 1 August 2023, we want to emit 12 per cent less CO2. By this Avebe means absolutely and per tonne of product produced. Without a CO2 and energy reduction programme, Avebe’s carbon emissions would go up because we make more and more high-value products whose production requires more energy. This means that we need to save 20% of energy to achieve a net 12%. That is a tough target, but we are on course to meet it, and plans are already being made for further CO2 reduction by 2030.” – Erik Koops


Apart from saving energy, carbon emissions can also be reduced by switching from natural gas to electricity. “Electricity is much more expensive on average than natural gas, but the price of electricity varies widely, depending on supply and demand. With new electric steam boilers, Avebe can make steam 20 per cent of the time with electricity instead of natural gas. The green electricity comes largely from our own solar farms in Ter Apelkanaal and Gasselternijveen.

Avebe received the SDE++ subsidy for three e-boilers, two of which will be installed in 2022. We are leading the way in the Netherlands in this respect. An e-boiler was already in use last year at Stadex in Sweden. Because electricity is comparatively cheaper there, it was possible to switch entirely to green electricity. This makes Stadex the first carbon-neutral Avebe plant.”

Internal CO2 price: € 100 per tonne Large companies have to pay for their carbon emissions. The European market price for CO2 is now around € 80 per tonne. To stimulate investments in energy saving, Avebe uses an internal CO2 price of € 100 per tonne. This applies to saving on fossil fuels (especially natural gas) at Avebe.