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Full steam ahead

Reducing our carbon footprint in Mexico: Givaudan’s Pedro Escobedo site has significantly cut carbon emissions by switching from fuel oil to natural gas, and is set to generate its own electricity and steam with cogeneration. Since 2009, Givaudan’s fragrance ingredients plant in Pedro Escobedo, Mexico, has reduced its carbon emissions by 26%, an absolute reduction of 4,583 tonnes of CO2. Now the site is gearing up for even better performance with cogeneration, a process that uses natural gas to generate electricity and steam.

Givaudan

The figures are impressive, yet the reality can be hard to imagine. What does a tonne of CO2 look like?

To get an idea, imagine a giant balloon, approximately the size of a football field. Inflate that balloon with carbon dioxide, a clear, odourless gas, and you have approximately one tonne of CO2. Multiply that balloon by hundreds and thousands of millions, and you begin to get an image of carbon emissions on a worldwide scale.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the atmosphere and is essential to life on earth. It is also the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. The burning of carbon-based fuels since the industrial revolution has elevated CO2 levels that are a key factor in climate change. 

Launching cogeneration

Located in the Querétaro state of central Mexico, the Givaudan site in Pedro Escobedo made the decision to bring natural gas to the plant in 2011. Before the switch to natural gas, the site had been using fuel oil to generate steam and burn high-calorific power sidestreams since 1993. Now, the plant is preparing to launch a cogeneration project that will save an additional 2,625 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power, is a highly efficient way to generate energy with reduced CO2 emissions. The commissioning of a gas-powered generator in Pedro Escobedo will soon cover all of the site’s electricity needs and offer additional advantages.

Francisco, Site Manager, explains: “Cogeneration with natural gas offers the added benefit of simultaneously producing 21% of the steam needed in our plant for production processes of fragrance ingredients, key components in the manufacture of fragrance compounds.”

Condensated steam is captured and recovered for use downstream. Reverse osmosis purges are recovered in cooling towers. Actions like these have led to a 10% savings in groundwater usage per tonne of production.

“With cogeneration we will generate a surplus of 20% extra electrical power which we can feed back to the grid and eventually, when Mexican regulations allow, share with our sister site in Cuernavaca,” says Francisco, referring to Givaudan’s Flavours production site in neighbouring Jiutepec, near the city of Cuernavaca.

Reducing carbon footprint at all levels

“Today in Mexico, most of the electrical energy is supplied and regulated by the state-owned Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), which mainly uses oil to generate electricity. It is both costly and subject to frequent power outages in the Querétaro area that penalise our production,” Francisco adds.

Beyond natural gas, Pedro Escobedo’s team has worked to put a range of initiatives in place to reduce the site’s carbon footprint at all levels of operations. According to Ana Celia, Utilities Team Leader, achieving reductions is a collective effort: “Our Green Team has implemented all kinds of energy-saving initiatives, from LED lamps in alarms and sprinklers, timers in air conditioning systems, solar heating in bathrooms, insulation in valves and fittings, and electrical devices in high consumption motors.”

Cogeneration plants can achieve energy efficiency of around 90% according to the European Commission, which promotes the concept in Europe.
European Commission: Cogeneration of heat and power

For Givaudan, these efforts are one step towards achieving the science-based targets to which the Company committed ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) in 2015.

As part of its strengthened eco-efficiency targets, Givaudan has committed to stabilise its carbon footprint by reducing absolute CO2 emissions by at least 4% year on year in order to compensate for growing production volumes.