At Nordkalk, we are continuously striving to reduce our emissions, and in our new strategy we have committed ourselves to take decisive steps towards fossil-free operations. The opportunities we see in front of us at this stage are related to replacing fossil fuels with biofuels and continuing to electrify our production processes.
Replacing fossil fuels has been on our agenda for some years now and our aim is to increase the share of biofuels used at Nordkalk year by year.
For example, at our Ignaberga limestone grinding plant in Sweden, we have replaced light fuel oil in the drying process with bio-oil since 2017. By doing so, we have been able to entirely eliminate the fossil fuel emissions in this part of the process. At the Vampula grinding plant in Finland, we managed to replace 72% of heating oil with locally produced biogas in 2019. This biogas is supplied to the plant via a 1.5 km long pipeline, so in addition to decreasing the CO2emissions of the plant, the number of transports is also reduced.
In Köping, Sweden, we have continued our work to introduce biofuels to the lime kiln. During 2019, full-scale testing was carried out successfully and we believe that in the coming years, up to 30% of the fuel can be biobased. A similar test was also conducted in the Pargas lime kiln in Finland and the results have been equally promising.
Reduced emissions in logistics
Transports are another significant emissions source within Nordkalk as we are moving around big material volumes. In Miedzianka, Poland, six million tonnes of limestone is processed annually. Nowadays 40% of the transports from the site are carried out by climate friendly trains, and we are continuously working on increasing the share of rail transports. In 2019, we also made several improvements to internal site logistics to save energy and reduce emissions from vehicles. For example, we installed sensors on quarry dumpers in order to improve the flow of vehicles and reorganised the logistics in the stacking yards to improve the efficiency of train loadings.
At the end of 2019, Nordkalk Management Team made a decision to further increase the amount of renewable fuels used in our quarry vehicles. Tests with several solutions will start at Nordkalk locations in 2020. Nordkalk has also decided to switch to renewable fuels in other company vehicles. The renewable diesel is reducing CO2 emissions by 90% per litre compared with the traditional fossil diesel fuel.
Energy efficiency continued to improve in 2019
Emissions can also be reduced by increasing energy efficiency. As part of our ongoing NICO performance improvement programme, we have identified several initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of our operations. While many initiatives are scheduled for implementation in 2020, some improvements were introduced during 2019. Thanks to these improvements, the overall energy efficiency in Nordkalk continued to improve during 2019.
In the Köping lime kiln, so-called ‘lifters’ were installed in order to improve the heat exchange in the lime bed in the kiln and thus reduce the energy input. Based on the available data so far, we have been able to save several percentage points of energy consumption.
Another major action was to replace the classifier in the production line of hydrated lime at the Lohja plant in Finland. The yield of the product was improved, which resulted in reduced energy loss in connection with the discarded share of the material flow.
Nordkalk also has many years’ experience in capturing secondary heat from our lime kilns and either using it on-site or delivering it to the local communities’ district heating networks. All rotary kilns in Nordkalk are equipped with heat recovery set-ups. In 2019, Nordkalk delivered a total of 72,000 MWh of district heat to the local communities in Köping, Lohja and Pargas. This is equivalent to the amount of energy found in 7.2 million litres of heating oil.
The pace will accelerate
We have started our journey towards fossil-free operations. The first steps have been taken and the pace will only accelerate. The direction is clearly set out and we are committed to continue on the route set. In the coming years, we will focus on low emission logistics, added biofuel usage and renewable energy sources and evaluate the possibility of electrifying our production processes.
Nordkalk is the leading limestone company in Northern Europe. We deliver essential raw materials to numerous industries, and our solutions contribute to clean air and water as well as productivity of agricultural land.