Steam powers Mondelēz Philippines’ manufacturing plant
A biomass boiler stands in a parcel of a manufacturing plant in Parañaque City, generating steam used to process ingredients for cheese blocks, cheese spreads, and mayonnaise.
Since 2013, snack foods maker Mondelēz Philippines has been powering production with a renewable energy (RE) source in its premises.
Mondelēz is formerly Kraft Foods Philippines, the local arm of Mondelēz International – known for brands like Cadbury Dairy Milk, Cheez Whiz, Eden Cheese, Eden Mayo, Oreo, Tang, and Toblerone.
Plant Manager Jojo Villanueva told the media on March 5, Thursday, that for the past year alone, the use of the biomass boiler reduced the company’s requirements for energy drawn from the grid.
This resulted in electricity savings comparable to the “average annual consumption of a million households,” he said.
How it works
Mondelēz has reserved 8 hectares for this project alone, but only a fourth of the area is occupied at present.
The biomass boiler was installed and remains operated by a third party service provider.
Rice hulls and coconut husks – two of the most common agricultural wastes in the country – are used as fuel. They are sourced by the firm from 22 local farmers.
A conveying system moves the waste to a storage silo.
From the storage silo, a predetermined amount of fuel is transferred to the furnace section, triggering the boiler to heat up the water and create steam.
Combustion of biomass fuel can reach up to 1,850 Fahrenheit, with a moisture content of 0% to 50%.
The steam passes through a pipeline to power ingredients preparation and machine cleaning.
Essentially, the biomass boiler operates in that cycle for almost 24/7. It only stops once a month for maintenance and cleaning done to ensure maximum efficiency.
Summer is coming
Mondelēz is ready to run its own generator sets anytime, Villanueva said.
They have signed up for the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which requests participants to de-load their energy provisions when there is no sufficient supply in their community during the dry season.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and utility firm Manila Electric Company (Meralco) have called for ILP partners in light of a projected power shortage in Luzon, coinciding with the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility from March 15 to April 14.
Luzon’s energy reserves are derived from 3 Malampaya-fueled power plants: Lopez-led First Gen Corporation’s Sta Rita (1,000 megawatts) and San Lorenzo (500MW); and Kepco Philippines-owned Ilijan (1200MW).
Out of the surplus capacity of 1000MW that will address the imminent crisis, 739.58MW will come from the ILP.
“We ask for at least 3-4 hours of advice, at the minimum,” the plant manager said to indicate their preparedness in case the demand peaks in summer.
They will be firing up their generators once they get directives from the DOE.
Apart from the biomass boiler, the firm is equipped with solatubes and solar panels to activate perimeter lights and power the corporate offices.
The combined savings from all RE sources have afforded them enough energy to keep the plant up and running for more than 4 months.
Estrella Raquin, safety, security and environment manager, said they have secured their capacity when the shortfall of reserves happens due to the sensitivity of their products under certain conditions.
She emphasized that in the end, what they aim for is the consumers’ satisfaction with their creations.
Going green takes time
The firm’s commitment to go green began in 2008 and is well on its way to spreading positive effects, not only to nature and the company coffers, but also to the 65,000 residents of the community surrounding the Mondelēz plant.
With the biomass boiler around, carbon emissions have thinned out to the equivalent of one year’s worth of 64 car emissions, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) computations.
It is also equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide that 7,795 tree seedlings feed on in the span of 10 years.
Before clean air comes through, the gas that comes from the biomass boiler passes a "scrubber," a device that eliminates pollutants.
The wastewater will flow to their wastewater treatment facility.
Raquin said that they used to course 100% of the plant’s wastewater from the plant to the river. Now they treat it to be reused in their operations, such as cleaning and gardening.
“We make sure we are compliant with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” she added. Thus, they monitor air and water quality on a regular basis.
Amid the looming power crisis, Mondelēz mulls the expansion of its renewable energy sources.
Why this kind of investment?
Through generating steam and harnessing solar power, the snack foods maker strives for a balance between sustainable practices and uncompromised production of high quality food.
This is their way of bringing joy to consumers, said Raquin. – Rappler.com
A freelance business writer, Shadz Loresco follows stories on entrepreneurs, technology, and finance. Her background includes 5 years of writing and editing for online business-to-business (B2B) marketing and reputation management.