Suiker Unie and sustainability are virtually synonymous. Suiker Unie is well on the way to becoming the greenest beet processor in Europe. It has invested heavily in sustainability initiatives in recent years, with a special focus on green energy. Suiker Unie is currently the biggest producer of green gas in the Netherlands.
Processing sugar beet produces residual flows, such as beet pulp, beet tips, foliage and molasses. These flows are fermented in biomass digesters to produce energy in the form of biogas. All the valuable minerals remain in the digestate, the feedstock remaining after digestion. The digestate is used to fertilise the farmers’ fields, thus closing a loop in the supply chain. This helps maintain soil health and is a good example of a circular process to close local loops in the supply chain. Each of Suiker Unie’s digesters processes more than 100,000 tonnes of biomass every year. This vegetable raw material is sourced mainly from Suiker Unie’s own factories.
The sugar factories in Dinteloord and Vierverlaten also operate methane reactors to purify washing water and simultaneously recover biogas.
The biogas is upgraded to green gas. When all the digesters are running at full capacity, Suiker Unie feeds more than 30 million cubic metres of green gas into the national gas transmission network, enough for 20,000 households a year. Of the 30 million cubic metres, about 8 million are used instead of natural gas in Suiker Unie’s own factories. This cuts their natural gas consumption by about 10% a year. Suiker Unie is the biggest producer of green gas in the Netherlands.
There are four wind turbines on the Suiker Unie site in Dinteloord. These wind turbines are the property of Pure Energy, which also operates them. The turbines generate more than 31,000,000 kWh of sustainable energy every year, all of which is supplied to the public grid. This is comparable to the annual consumption of more than 10,000 households. It also covers the electrical energy used at Suiker Unie’s head office. Click here for more information (only available in Dutch).
Suiker wants the specialities factory in Puttershoek to operate entirely on solar power in the years ahead. A study to build a 17 hectare solar park to supply electricity to the factory and local residents will be completed in 2019. Completely circular production is the goal!
If everything goes according to plan, the factory will be surrounded by at least 17 hectares of solar panels in 2019, producing enough energy to run the specialities factory entirely on solar energy. While other players are only now switching from coal to gas, Suiker Unie is already taking the next step in the energy transition: from natural gas to green gas and solar.
The sugar beet factories produce not only white sugar but also bio-ethanol, biomethane and animal feed. Bio-ethanol and biomethane are sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and are used in the chemical industry.
Bio-ethanol developments at our factory in Anklam, Germany:
- Start of production in Anklam in 2008
- Bio-ethanol is produced from thick juice during the beet campaign and thin juice
- Bio-ethanol is used to produce biofuels and in the chemical industry
- 100% certification under the Biofuel Sustainability Ordinance
- The factory is certified to ISO 14001, ISO 50001, ISO 22000, etc.