Sweden: 14 August 2023 

Empowering Swedish Sugar Production with Renewable Steam Solutions

On 11 October 2022, a ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of a new renewable energy partnership in Sweden. Nordic Sugar connected its sugar mill in Örtofta to Kraftringen Energi biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The partnership ensures that sugar production will continue while also reducing the use of fossil gas.

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Processing approximately 2 million tons of sugar beet each year, Nordic Sugar Örtofta produces 300,000 tonnes of white sugar, molasses, and animal feed. The white sugar and other products are supplied to the retail sector and food industry.

The sugar mill, which started its operations in 1890, is owned by Nordic Sugar AB, a subsidiary of the Germany-based sugar conglomerate Nordzucker AG. According to Nordzucker, it is presently considered one of the largest and most efficient beet-processing plants in all of Europe.”

Reducing fossil gas dependence

The Örtofta sugar mill has been using both fossil gas and biogas to meet its energy requirements, and it has been contributing residual heat from its production process to the local district heating network.

Recently, a new pipeline has been installed, connecting the sugar mill to Kraftringen Energi AB’s (Kraftringen) Örtofta biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant. This connection enables Nordic Sugar to receive process steam from the CHP plant. As a result, Nordic Sugar anticipates reducing its fossil gas consumption by up to 25 percent. By implementing this initiative, it is projected to decrease its fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 17,000 tonnes annually.

“In Sweden, we are self-sufficient in sugar. It is a responsibility that we take with the utmost gravity. Over the past five years, we have invested around 181.7 million euros to become one of the most modern and competitive sugar mills in Europe. Renewable and stable energy solutions are crucial components in this and now we take another step into the future by adding process steam derived from domestic fossil-free combined heat and power to our fuel mix,” said Olof Dahlgren, Plant Manager of Nordic Sugar Örtofta during his ceremony speech.

Novel neighborhood cooperation

Geographical proximity proved to be a key enabler of the novel process steam pipeline solution. The Kraftringen’s Örtofta CHP plant is located less than two kilometres away of the city.

A 1.1 km pipeline has been constructed to transport high-pressure steam from Kraftringen Örtofta to Nordic Sugar Örtofta’s boiler house, where the pressure is reduced.The steam condensate is sent back through a return pipeline, connecting the feed water tanks of both boiler houses.

“Nordic Sugar is a significant supplier in the food industry. We are thrilled to provide Nordic Sugar with renewable energy, while also contributing to ensuring their production and enhancing competitiveness. Collaborating closely with our partners to optimize energy solutions aligns perfectly with our strategy. This approach benefits all parties involved, the environment, and supports sustainable growth,” stated Sezgin Kadir, CEO of Kraftringen.

A very good example

The estimated 11.8 million euros pipeline project broke ground in September 2021, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held just 12 months later, on October 11, 2022. It coincided with the actual start of steam delivery for the 2022 sugar production campaign that has come underway at Nordic Sugar Örtofta.

“This project is a very good example of an investment that contributes to increased security of supply for both Nordic Sugar and Sweden. It is also a clear example of how the renewable energy transition and the security of supply go hand in hand. Solutions that benefit both societies at large and the corporate community will become important in the transition to net zero,” commented Gustav Ebenå, Department Head at the Swedish Energy Agency.

This article was originally written by Alan Sherrard and published on 11 October 2022 in Bioenergy International

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