Through Solvay ONE Planet, the Group has made a new climate commitment and, within that, defined a clear strategy to transition from fossil to renewable and waste-to-heat energy across its plants worldwide. Implementation is underway, with a strong pipeline of projects, especially in North America, Asia and Europe.
What’s the story?
We are committed to being part of the transition to a climate-friendly economy, and recognize that this is a major challenge. Solvay is more energy intensive than the chemical industry average, with continued reliance on coal. The phase-out of coal for energy generation is one of our key new decisions. We started our energy transition journey in 2018, as part of a pledge to cut 1 million tons in absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operations by 2025. This switch from GHG intensity to absolute GHG reduction clearly signaled our determination not to grow our business at the expense of the environment.
In 2019, we continued our drive to transition to renewable energy at our plants by finding and prioritizing new solutions to meet our on-site electricity and heat requirements. We aim to move towards non-fossil energy by using both renewables and waste-to-energy conversion.
Today, Solvay produces 12 million tons in CO2 emissions, two thirds of which comes from energy consumption and one third from our processes. Approved energy consumption related projects will lead to a 600,000 tons reduction in CO2 by 2025 and we already have a strong pipeline to ensure further reductions going forward.
of renewable in the total energy consumed by the Group in 20191
1: Including renewables in purchased energy
projects realized or decided in 2019
“We have defined a strategic approach at Group level, supported by real competencies in the field, with market-centric teams identifying the right projects for each geography.”Alain Michel,Climate and Energy Transition Director
Who and how?
Our teams at local, GBU and Group level are working closely together to ensure our plants make the energy transition successfully. In 2018 we created a dedicated team based close to our markets in North America, Asia and Europe. Its role is to develop solutions, in-house or with external developers, that suit local specifics, complying with policies and matching resources, and to ensure that the projects identified are tailored to the needs of our plants in each geography. In 2019, all GBUs developed their own energy-transition roadmap to identify the most appropriate levers for their transition to non-fossil. Today, working as ONE Solvay, we have a holistic view of their specific needs and colleagues across the Group are aligning to achieve effective project implementation.
What we achieved
Our approach is to work on local on-site projects and on more global off-site projects, allowing us to develop an efficient mix of solutions to be offered to the GBUs where they are the most appropriate.
In the United States, for instance, we have developed solutions aimed at enabling us to cover the country’s plants’ total electricity needs. On January 1, 2020 we had already reduced our annual CO2 emissions from electricity consumption by 150,000 tons, or around 25%, mainly through solar energy.
“Since January 2019, 100% of the electricity powering our plant in Baton Rouge, US, is supplied by solar energy. Decarbonizing the upstream value chain of our vanillin products gives them additional value and meets the increasing demand from our customers to reach a diminished carbon emissions objective.”Peter Browning,President of Aroma Performance Global Business Unit
In Europe, we are working on a wide variety of projects, including the use of biogas (produced through fermentation of biomass, such as agricultural waste or wood). A major example is our soda ash plant in Rheinberg, Germany, where we have invested in a new biomass boiler. It will come into service from May 2021, using recycled locally sourced wood chips as the raw material, and will cut the site’s CO2 emissions by over 30%.
“The Rheinberg project marks a critical step in achieving our new greenhouse gas target as part of our strategy to produce and serve our customers in a more sustainable and competitive way.”Christophe Clemente,President of Soda Ash & Derivatives Global Business Unit