Tuesday, 19 March 2024 11:55

Gore milk processor goes electric

Written by  Staff Reporters
Mataura Valley Milk claims to be the first all-electric dairy factory in New Zealand. Mataura Valley Milk claims to be the first all-electric dairy factory in New Zealand.

Southland-based Mataura Valley Milk can now lay claim to be the first all-electric dairy factory in New Zealand.

The milk processor, majority owned by a2 Milk Company, has just installed an electric boiler, which eliminates about 22,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent Scope 1 emissions from the site annually. The new high-pressure electrode boiler (HPEB) provides all the process heat required in the operation of the plant, which converts milk collected from farmers in its area to a range of dairy nutritional products for sale in international markets.

MVM is 75% owned by a2MC. China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG) owns the remaining 25% shares.

Commissioning of the new boiler was marked by an event at the plant last week, hosted by a2MC's chief legal and sustainability officer and company secretary, Jaron McVicar, and attended by community representatives including Southland MP Joseph Mooney, Gore District Mayor Ben Bell, and representatives of the Hokonui Runanga.

McVicar says the electric boiler was a significant milestone for a2MC, as part of a group-wide sustainability programme addressing climate change and promoting nature-positive outcomes across the company's value chain.

MVM general manager Paddy McMyler points out that the project is more than the installation of a new boiler.

"The opportunity to be an early adopter and use this technology to remove fossil fuels from our site was compelling. It takes an ambitious company with a proactive approach to sustainability to adopt such a technology in the early phases."

Other benefits from electrification include the fact that the plant operates cleaner and free from coal dust, ash, and combustion; and that there is potential for further benefits founded on flexibility gains arising from the shift to electricity.

McMyler acknowledged the funding and other support provided by MVM's majority shareholder the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA), along with the technical involvement of project partners including Meridian Energy, Windsor Energy, PowerNet and Aurecon.

A2MC chief supply chain officer Chopin Zhang says it is investing in Mataura Valley Milk's capability and development. This includes growing its nutritional manufacturing capability, increasing access to A1 protein free milk in Southland, in-sourcing production of specialised milk powder products and developing new products at the plant.

"Our investment reflects the recognition that MVM is a world-class facility with potential to contribute substantially to The a2 Milk Company's purpose - to pioneer the future of dairy for good."

EECA chief executive Marcos Pelenur said the completion of such an ambitious project within two years shows the benefits of strong and collaborative partnerships.

"EECA has worked with MVM for several years now, supporting it with an Energy Transition Accelerator opportunity assessment and highlighting the right energy solutions for MVM's needs. These steps have no doubt helped the pace of change and the emissions reductions that have been achieved."

Meridian chief customer officer Lisa Hannifin says it's proud to have helped Mataura Valley Milk switch energy sources.

"Energy contributes around 40% of New Zealand's total gross emissions and process heat makes up a third of all energy use. So, this change won't just benefit Mataura Valley Milk - it'll benefit all of us."

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