McCain Invests to Switch from Coal to Electricity in NZ
A NZ5.5m (USD3.6m) investment involving PEF technology and a switch from coal power to electricity is set to be a major energy saver for McCain, in an area of Timaru, under scrutiny for high air pollution.
McCain Foods’ plant at Washdyke had until recently used steam from the burning of coal in its pre-treatment process for potatoes, but has now installed pulsed electric field technology (PEF) at a cost of NZ2.5m that will save approximately 4800 tons of carbon each year and around 52,000 gigajoules (GJ) of energy through increased efficiency and reduced wastage.
The company’s New Zealand senior plant manager Barto Greeff said energy requirement is significant at the Washdyke plant, with one of the highest demands coming from pre-treatment of potatoes.
Greef said the increased energy efficiency and reduced wastage was equivalent to the electricity needed to power around 1800 homes for a year.
“The electric field pulsed through uncut potatoes during processing results in less breakage when cutting, and therefore less waste. It significantly reduces energy and water consumption, and after PEF treatment, less oil is absorbed by produce upon deep-frying, and is physically smaller than the old pre-heaters, saving on space.”
The potato chip giant, which is also spending another NZ3m spent on converting its boilers from coal to electricity, joins three other big South Canterbury companies – DB Breweries, Fonterra and Oceania – who have pledged to migrate from coal burners and set zero carbon emission targets.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority chief executive Andrew Caseley said:
“Although PEF technology has been installed in food processing factories around the world, it a novelty in New Zealand. There is great potential for replication, and similar carbon reduction savings to be achieved across different processing industries. Electrification is key to getting our biggest emitters off fossil fuels and leading the way into a low-carbon future, and we’re pleased to support McCain making this progress.”
Greeff said the company aimed to cease coal use by 2025.