SWITZERLAND – Swiss dairy manufacturer Emmi Group in partnership with Geneva-based manufacturer TVP Solar has commissioned an industrial solar thermal plant at its Langnau production site in Switzerland.

The company said the renewable project is part of its course to achieve the net zero 2050 target and the interim goal of reducing internal greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2027.

The system, from TVP Solar, will be equipped with 109 solar thermal collectors distributed over 214 square meters of roof, which will convert sunlight into CO2-free heat, Emmi said in a statement.

The high-vacuum solar thermal collectors, according to TVP Solar, generate heat efficiently and constantly throughout the year, producing some of the high-temperature process water required for the production of fondue, raclette, and other cheese products at the Langnau site.

This is an addition to the dairy giant’s existing district heating, photovoltaic plants, and biomass at other facilities.

With this renewable thermal energy, Emmi expects to save around 21,000 liters of heating oil per year, while reducing CO2 emissions by 55 tonnes while also being able to lower costs per megawatt hour of thermal energy and become less dependent on fossil fuels.

Gerold Schatt, head of group sustainability at Emmi, said: “The new solar thermal system reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, secures a portion of our energy supply, and stabilizes our energy costs. In this way, we can prevent bottlenecks in our energy supply and also contribute to climate protection.”

The project was supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), the Swiss Climate Foundation, and the Institute for Solar Technology (SPF).

Piero Abbate, CEO of TVP Solar, commented that this pioneering project highlights the potential of solar thermal energy for industrial use in Switzerland and positions Emmi as a pioneer in emissions reduction.

Abbate added that his company is committed to helping local operators reduce their emissions and diversify their energy supply.

To achieve faster and more widespread decarbonization in Swiss companies, he said broader support from the federal government is needed.

The solar project supports the six years running KlimaStaR Milk resource project that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural milk production by 20% on average.

The initiative was launched by the two Swiss dairy giants Emmi and Nestlé together with milk producer organizations aaremilch and the Central Switzerland Milk Producers Cooperative (ZMP).

The innovative initiative which hopes to gain insights to allow for the implementation of targeted measures beyond the scope of the project and thus help to further reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the Swiss dairy industry is supported by the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

It will include around 300 agricultural pilot operations. The School of Agricultural, Forest, and Food Sciences at Bern University of Applied Sciences (HAFL) and ETH Zurich will be supporting the project as scientific partners.

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