ALTANA

One of our ambitious climate objectives is to reduce our CO2 emissions, in relation to gross added value, by 30 percent by 2020 compared to 2007. To this end, ELANTAS has taken an extremely sustainable path at its site in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. The manufacturer of wire enamels combines renewable energies with an especially efficient technology: cogeneration. In this way, the company covers 85 percent of its energy needs on a sustained basis. “Environmental protection is a question of resolve,” says plant manager Giorgio Monni.

CLIMATE PROTECTION IS NOT ONLY TECHNICALLY FEASIBLE, BUT ALSO ECONOMICALLY EFFICIENT. ELANTAS IN ITALY IS AN EXAMPLE.

Like a Forest with 180,000 Trees
A chemical plant that almost completely generates its own energy needs in a sustainable way? Skeptics wrinkle their brows. But the Ascoli site in central Italy proves that this is possible. Environmentally friendly, nearly one-hundred-percent self-generated energy for an annual production of 20,000 tons of insulation coatings is technically feasible and economically efficient.

“If we had planted a 180-hectare forest, it would have had the same positive climate effect,” says Giorgio Monni, summing up the energy concept. The plant manager bases this comparison on the following calculation: One hectare of forest binds around ten tons of CO2. If at its Ascoli site ELANTAS obtained its energy solely from the Italian power grid, its CO2 emissions would amount to almost 2,000 tons. Due to its environmentally friendly energy generation, the plant’s emissions amount to 1,800 tons less than that, corresponding to the ecological performance of 180,000 trees.

But a great deal of persistence was needed to achieve this aim, the engineer recalls. “We suffered some setbacks and had to adapt our original plans.” The first step was uncomplicated. In 2009, the company began operating a photovoltaic system. It produces around 880 kilowatts – about a sixth of the plant’s total energy needs.

Cogeneration
Subsequently, planning began for the cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The advantage: “Thanks to the possibility of recovering thermal energy during electricity generation – that’s why it’s called cogeneration – the plant’s yield is particularly high, which makes it extremely efficient,” says Monni. In Ascoli, ELANTAS utilizes this sustainable thermal energy to heat reaction vessels for production and for other processes. The original plan was to operate the plant using especially climate-friendly bio-oil. “But on account of rising bio-oil prices, the operation would not have been economical,” says Monni. “That’s why we use natural gas today.”

CO2 Reduced by More Than 60 Percent
The CHP plant has a capacity of 3,500 megawatt hours (MWh) a year. Together with the solar power plant, 4,380 MWh are produced by the company itself, with annual energy needs totaling 4,800 MWh. “Thus, our CO2 emissions have decreased by more than 60 percent compared to 2008,” Monni calculates, “from around 2,500 tons to about 905 tons.” They are produced when the natural gas is burned to generate electricity.

The plant’s environmentally friendly production for its energy needs is just one way of protecting the climate. Highly efficient and intelligent usage of energy is an integral part of our entrepreneurial selfimage. ELANTAS is setting standards here too. “When we converted our former warehouse into a laboratory, we made sure that the energy consumption in the building was as low as possible,” says Monni.

The 1,500-square-meter building has LED lighting. In addition, cylindrical solar tubes with reflectors on the building’s ceiling feed sunlight into the interior during the daytime. At the same time, special coatings on the windows block out the sun’s warming infrared rays, thus ensuring a pleasant room temperature during the hot Italian summer. All in all, this leads to excellent working conditions for the laboratory team, which consequently can concentrate solely on developing new solutions for its customers.

“Those who have big aims can bring about changes in small steps,” says plant manager Giorgio Monni, who has headed the Ascoli plant for 28 years.

His conclusion: “The ecological conversion of the energy supply in Ascoli has been the company’s most sustainable project during my career so far.”