How Unilin Group generates its own green energy
Unilin Group strives to be entirely CO2 neutral by 2050. This translates as: no more fossil fuels in our activities. A huge challenge. So how do we propose to go about it? By generating our own green energy for our sites. With solar panels, on-site windmills and even biomass plants.
We have embraced green energy and energy-efficient processes for quite a while now. Today nearly half (43%) of our energy is renewable. This is energy we generate ourselves through investments in green energy sources, with a focus on wind, solar and biomass.
From fossil fuels to green energy
Per site we research the possibilities to use this sustainable energy. As we have sites across the globe, we have established local energy teams. What are the possibilities at the individual sites? Which roofs are suited for solar panels? How can we gear the energy demand for the sites to this? We bring together all these data in order to identify the most efficient green solution.
As early as 2014, we built three wind turbines in the industrial estates of IVC in Avelgem. As the power they generate is reserved exclusively for local use, the site sources 20% of its electricity demand from that wind energy.
As of May 2022, the site of Unilin Insulation in Feluy (Seneffe) will also build two wind turbines. Together they will deliver 7.2 megawatts, or the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of 5,500 families. The wind turbines are being built by our energy partner ENGIE.
Right now we have more than 10,000 solar panels across the globe and in the near future a significant number of panels will be added, for instance at our sites in Avelgem, Mouscron and Oostrozebeke. A good case in point is the recently approved solar energy project at one of our New Zealand sites. Another project in Malaysia is also implementing a switch to solar energy.
So solar and wind energy are important but the of green energy targeted by Unilin Group is biomass. We currently have biomass plants in Oostrozebeke and Wielsbeke, where non-recyclable waste wood is converted into energy. The wood is sourced from the sites themselves and consists of wood that has reached the end of its useful life. The energy released during the combustion of this wood residue is converted into heat and electricity. As a result, our Wielsbeke plant is almost fully powered by renewable energy. At the moment we are looking into which of our sites would benefit from a biomass plant.
However, switching to renewable energy is only half the story. It is also important to start consuming less energy and that is why we place maximum focus on process efficiency. Every project is screened from the perspective of energy efficiency and adjustments are made where necessary.
Existing projects are also re-evaluated and optimised on a regular basis. At our Wiltz site we now recover the heat from the smokestack of the vinyl oven and reuse it in the oven. Another example is Izegem, where outside air is now used for cooling instead of a cooling installation. Measures of this nature also have a major impact.
Find out more about our way forward?