Emmi commissions a pioneering solar thermal plant
Emmi has become the first private Swiss company to commission an industrial solar thermal plant from Geneva manufacturer TVP Solar. At the Langnau production site, the pioneering system, equipped with around 100 solar thermal collectors, converts sunlight into CO2-free heat. In this way, Emmi is further decarbonising and diversifying its energy supply, putting it on course for its netZERO 2050 reduction path.
The Emmi production facility in Langnau, where the popular Gerber fondue is made, among other things, was the first in Switzerland to install an industrially operated solar thermal system in collaboration with the Geneva-based company TVP Solar SA. The innovative high-vacuum solar thermal collectors distributed over some 210 m2 of roof space produce some of the high-temperature process water required each day for the production of fondue, raclette and cheese-spread specialities by absorbing sunlight and converting it into heat. Unlike a photovoltaic system, which produces electricity, the solar system generates heat very efficiently and constantly throughout the year.
“The new solar thermal system reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, secures a portion of our energy supply and stabilises our energy costs. In this way, we can prevent bottlenecks in our energy supply and also contribute to climate protection,” says Gerold Schatt, Head of Group Sustainability at Emmi.
Moving away from fossil fuels
Installation of the solar thermal system marks a further step along Emmi’s netZERO 2050 reduction path and helps achieve the interim goal of reducing internal greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2027. In addition to the use of district heating, photovoltaic systems and biomass at other production sites, Emmi is now decarbonising some of its heating consumption through solar thermal energy at the Langnau site. With this renewable thermal energy, the company annually saves around 21,000 litres of heating oil and reduces CO2 emissions by 55 tonnes per year. Further benefits include significantly lower costs per megawatt hour of thermal energy, less dependence on fossil fuels, and thus a more stable energy supply.
Swiss decarbonisation solution
The solar thermal system implemented by Geneva-based provider TVP Solar represents a first for Swiss industry. TVP Solar has already demonstrated the effectiveness of its solar thermal systems with the heating network of Services Industriels de Genève (SIG) and selected projects abroad.
“This pioneering project highlights the potential of solar thermal energy for industrial use in Switzerland and positions Emmi as a pioneer in emissions reduction. We are committed to helping local operators reduce their emissions and diversify their energy supply,” explains Piero Abbate, CEO of TVP Solar. He adds: “The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) played an important role in implementation of the project. Even broader support from the federal government is needed to achieve faster and more widespread decarbonisation in Swiss companies.”
The project at Emmi Langnau, which serves as a pilot scheme for Switzerland, was subsidised by the SFOE and supported with funds from the Swiss Climate Foundation. Further support has been provided by the Institute for Solar Technology SPF within the framework of the Pilot and Demonstration Programme run by the SFOE.
Integration in existing processes
Smooth operation of the project was also facilitated by Planair SA, an engineering firm specialising in the transition to alternative energy sources and decarbonisation. Planair identified the energy-intensive aspects of the manufacturing process and designed a plant optimised for environmental and economic benefits. The emphasis was on hot water preparation and preheating of the feed water for steam generation.
“Planair established the technical link between the TVP solar plant and Emmi’s existing facilities, allowing for seamless integration into the existing production processes and requirements at Emmi Langnau AG,” explains François Bauer, CEO of Planair.
A “plug and play” project
Against the background of an insecure energy supply and high energy costs, environmentally friendly solar thermal energy represents an efficient, secure and attractively priced energy source. Emmi is currently reviewing the possibility of introducing solar thermal energy at other production sites.
Facts and figures on the pioneering plant at Emmi Langnau
- More than one-third of CO2 emissions in Switzerland come from heat processing
- 109 TVP flat-plate collectors with a gross surface area of 214 m2
- Output of 145 KW-th
- Heat generation of 95° C all year round, even in winter
- 55 tonnes of CO2 savings per year or 1,375 tonnes over the 25-year operational life of the system
- Expected solar thermal yield: 163 MWh-th/year or 764 kWh/m2/year
Emmi is the leading manufacturer of high-quality dairy products in Switzerland. The roots of the company date back to 1907, when it was founded by dairy farmer cooperatives in the Lucerne region. With its focused strategy, innovative products and brand concepts established in Switzerland and beyond, such as Emmi Caffè Latte and Kaltbach cheese, Emmi has grown into an internationally active, listed group (EMMN) with a strong local presence in 15 countries.
Emmi’s business model is traditionally based on a careful approach to nature, animals and people. In this way, Emmi creates the best dairy moments, today and for generations to come, while also contributing to value creation in rural regions. The company distributes its quality products in around 60 countries and manufactures these at over 30 of its own production sites in nine countries. With more than 9,000 employees, around 70% of whom work outside Switzerland, the Emmi Group generated sales of CHF 3.9 billion in 2021.
About TVP Solar
TVP Solar SA is a Swiss company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets innovative high-vacuum solar thermal collectors based on patented technology.
TVP has revolutionised the solar energy sector, enabling the decarbonisation of industrial processes on a large scale. TVP has deployed projects in more than nine countries on three continents, supplying carbon-neutral renewable heat sources, the most cost-effective thermal energy available today, and thus reducing operating costs and CO2 emissions while ensuring a reliable energy supply. For more information, please visit www.tvpsolar.com.
Since it was founded in 1985, Planair AG has been committed to improving energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy sources and protection of the environment. Its multidisciplinary staff develops and implements innovative solutions in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energies and environmental protection.
Throughout the years, Planair SA has continued to professionalise the services it offers and adapt them to an expanding client base: public authorities, industrial companies, real estate management companies, private individuals, architects, institutional investors, and others. As a consulting engineering firm and member of the Swiss Society of Engineers & Architects (SIA), Planair is a fully independent and neutral advisor, engaged to defend the best interests of its clients.
With six offices in Western Switzerland (NE, VD, GE, JU, FR, VS) and three in France (Valdahon, Chambéry and Lyon), the Planair team today boasts over one hundred multidisciplinary employees (engineers, planners, scientific specialists, economists, programmers, general services staff) who develop and implement innovative solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, decarbonisation and environmental protection.