Climate Action

Two major primary processors have announced plans to electrify coal-fired boilers as part of Meridian Energy’s programme to help decarbonise industrial process heat in the South Island.

Agreements have been signed with the A2 Milk Company to support the decommissioning of a coal-fired boiler at its Mataura Valley Milk plant, and with Alliance Group to support the decommissioning of a coal-fired boiler at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill.  The partnerships will reduce the companies’ combined carbon emissions by 47,000 tonnes per year.

Meridian Chief Executive Neal Barclay says Mataura Valley Milk and Alliance are setting a viable path for Aotearoa’s primary export industries to end their fossil fuel dependence.

“These agreements will take more than 1,000 fully-laden coal trucks off Southland’s roads every year.  We’re proud to be supporting a low emissions future for Southland industries that are here to stay for the long term.”

Mataura Valley Milk CEO Bernard May says the key to the partnership is the involvement of multiple partners and long-term thinking.

“Mataura Valley Milk will be the first dairy plant in New Zealand running on certified renewable electricity and this project shows that transitioning from fossil fuels and electrifying Aotearoa’s primary industry is a team effort."

“It has been possible because Meridian has committed to long term electricity pricing, and the government has co-funded the project with support from EECA,” Bernard says.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor  says the company has ambitious decarbonisation goals, which it is pursuing through an Energy Transition Pathway for each of its processing plants.

“Lorneville is the largest export sheep meat processing site in the world.  We’re sending a strong signal to the communities we operate in, as well as our global customers that real sustainability and respect for the environment comes through measurable action.

“Installing an electrode-boiler in Southland will lower our carbon emissions equivalent to removing over 4,000 cars from the road every single year.  It’s a big step in our decarbonisation journey and we’re proud to be taking this leadership position.”

Barclay says while the partnerships show a real willingness from industry to decarbonise, they also highlight the need for government to maintain its long-term support and engagement. 

“Businesses still need to overcome significant capital and operating costs, and technical barriers to make electrification of process heat stack up economically.  We know we can continue to make progress as long as government commits to this challenge alongside us.”  

Meridian launched its Process Heat Electrification Programme in March with a target of supporting the reduction of 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.  The programme has received strong interest with companies including Woolworks and Meadow Mushrooms already signed up.

Barclay says new agreements with these large industry partners will see the programme exceed that target and support the reduction of over 120,000 tonnes per year.

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