One of the highest energy costs faced by automakers is keeping workers warm the winter and cool during the summer takes up a tremendous amount of energy, which has led to some clever solutions. The Volvo factory in Gent, Sweden will utilize an underground hot water pipeline to heat its facilities, cutting emissions output by as much as 40%.
Paper company Stora Enso runs two Combined Heat and Power plants that operates on a sludgey byproduct from the papermaking process, as well as externally-sourced biomass. The Stora plant is close enough to the Volvo plant that the two factories can be joined by an underground pipe that will pump 125 degree Celsius water to warm up Volvo’s factory and painting booths. The estimated annual emissions savings will amount to about 15,000 tons of CO2, a net decrease of about 40%, with the pipeline being worth about 25 MW of electrical power, enough to power about 5,000 homes for an entire day.
Despite the pipeline being about 4 km in length, the pipeline will lose just a few degrees in transit, making it an efficient way to heat up the plant and paint booths. The paint booth has to be warm enough for the paint to adhere properly, which has typically required energy-intensive heating units. Pumped hot water, sourced from natural biomass materials, is a much greener solution and will reduce both emissions and costs for the Swedish automaker.
The Gent plant is expected to build some 260,000 Volvos this year, including the all new Volvo XC90 SUV, and it will do so with dramatically lower heating costs and emissions by the end of 2015. That’s what we call a two-fer.