Tetra Pak is working with Absolicon to power the high-temperature sterilization of dairy products with a scalable solar thermal module – a move set to decarbonize the process by utilizing a renewable supply of thermal power.

Reportedly, two thirds of the energy consumed in a typical food production plant is thermal energy; the other third is attributed to electricity. Heat generation is currently said to constitute 40% of global CO2 emissions.

Most of the thermal demand comes from low to medium temperatures, the companies assert, for which reason the food industry is expected to benefit from the use of solar thermal energy.

Absolicon’s scalable solar thermal module is compatible with both new and existing UHT lines – including Tetra Pak’s UHT processing line for the high-temperature sterilization of dairy products, which is set to become the first solution to be offered together with a scalable solar thermal supply.

The modules are said to unlock various decarbonization options, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, in line with customer requirements and the location of their facilities.

Compared to equipment heated by fossil fuel-powered boilers, it is estimated that implementing solar thermal energy into Tetra Pak’s line could reduce fossil fuel usage by up to 40%. The first module is expected to be installed this year, and will subsequently be scaled to a worldwide market.

Absolicon hopes that the modules will drive decarbonization and the phasing out of fossil fuels in the UHT process, while Tetra Pak expects the transition to contribute to its goal of achieving net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2050.

Nicole Uvenbeck, director of Factory Sustainable Solutions & OEM Components at Tetra Pak, comments: “At Tetra Pak, we are committed to enabling our customers to improve their environmental footprint through optimizing their operations and equipment.

“We recently launched a new business solution called Factory Sustainable Solutions, where we help our customers optimize energy, water and CIP (Cleaning in Place) on a factory level.

“Absolicon’s solar thermal solutions are a good fit with this new Tetra Pak offering, as well as supporting our wider Net Zero Roadmap, where we have committed to reducing our value chain emissions and scaling decarbonization solutions for our suppliers, customers and own operations.

“The collaboration with Absolicon is a positive step in this direction, providing Tetra Pak with a new and exciting avenue to support customers to reduce their energy demands by replacing fossil-derived energy with solar thermal solutions.”

“By implementing clean thermal supply to their equipment, Tetra Pak are once again proving they are pioneers,” adds Absolicon CEO Joakim Byström. “They have global access to the world’s food and beverage companies and can become a change driver for the sector’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable heat.

“We are delighted to be part of this collaboration with Tetra Pak and to launch the first equipment line powered by Absolicon solar thermal, as part of our mission to reduce the world’s carbon emissions.”

The news comes after Huhtamaki signed two 10-year virtual solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) with global renewable energy developer BayWa r.e. in January 2022; and Borealis sought to receive around 90 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity from Renewable Power Capital’s Markkikallio wind farm every year in a nine-year PPA with Alpiq.

More recently, Frigel Group unveiled its new range of process cooling solutions for plastic manufacturing in packaging, pharmaceutical, automotive, and other industrial applications, setting its sights on lower cycle times, maximized productivity, and savings in both energy and water.

A report from Rabobank also warned that increases in energy costs and regulation pushing for decarbonization are posing a threat to the competitiveness of paper packaging producers in Europe.

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