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7 September 2023

Nordzucker invests in sustainable energy distribution system at Nordstemmen factory

Einschalten der Anlage; v.l.n.r.: Alexander Godow (COO Nordzucker), Olaf Lies (Wirtschaftsminister Niedersachen), Dirk Oberhaus (Leiter Siemens Niederlassung Hannover), Elmar Kuhnt (Head of Sugar Factory Nordstemmen)

Nordzucker will produce sugar in a climate-neutral way by 2050 at the latest. With the “GoGreen” programme, the company is establishing its own roadmap for greater energy efficiency and CO2 savings for each of the 14 production sites across the Group. Over the next five years, Nordzucker will invest more than 250 million euros in “GoGreen” measures. As part of this programme, a new climate-friendly, fluorine gas-free medium-voltage switchgear was officially switched on today at the production site in Nordstemmen together with Lower Saxony’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Olaf Lies. In future, this will act as the centrepiece of the plant’s energy distribution. It is one of the first switchgears from the manufacturer Siemens in food production in Germany that does not use the fluorine gas sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), which has been common up to now, and is instead operated with climate-neutral insulating gas “Clean Air”, which consists of natural components of the atmosphere.

“With the new climate-friendly medium-voltage electrical switchgear, we are not only making the energy supply to our sugar factory in Nordstemmen safer and more efficient, but we are also reducing our CO2 footprint and protecting the environment at the same time. Nordzucker invests in sustainability and efficiency at all its sites. The high investments also in our Lower Saxony factories are building blocks on our way to climate-neutral sugar production,” explained Executive Board member Alexander Godow, Chief Operating Officer at Nordzucker.

“This investment by Nordzucker is a very good example of the agricultural and food industry that is important in Lower Saxony. I am pleased that the internationally active company, which has its roots here in our federal state, is strengthening the production locations in the rural regions in this way. Future-oriented companies invest in sustainability and climate protection,” said Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economics, in praise of Nordzucker’s investment in the climate-friendly energy distribution plant.

Fluorine gas-free energy distribution plant

The new transfer and switching station is the central point for electricity in the medium-voltage range at the Nordstemmen site. This is where the electricity in the voltage range of up to 6,000 volts is distributed that is generated on site by the company’s own power plant for the production facilities, as well as that which is supplied to the plant from the public grid or also fed into the public grid from the site. “With this new plant, we are not only replacing the previous switchgear, but we have already thought into the future. The new plant is dimensioned in such a way that it can map future energy-saving projects such as our “steam upgrading”. Starting in 2024, we will save about 11,000 tonnes per year of CO2 by compressing process steam again,” plant manager Elmar Kuhnt explained the significance. The switchgear was commissioned on schedule in Nordstemmen in time for the start of the campaign on 11 September.  

Dirk Oberhaus, head of Siemens’ Hannover branch, was pleased that Nordzucker was one of the first companies in the food production sector to use this innovation: “With our blue GIS switchgear, the customer benefits from both economic efficiency and excellent environmental compatibility. Here we use the advantages of gas-insulated switchgear technology, but no longer use fluorine gases, instead we use the climate-neutral insulating gas Clean Air.”

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