Solvay and Veolia announce groundbreaking on joint refuse-derived fuel cogeneration unit, which would help power Solvay's soda ash plant in Dombasle, France; project will reduce plant's CO2 emissions by 50%, company says

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October 7, 2022 (press release) –

The new RDF cogeneration unit will drastically reduce CO2 emissions from Solvay's Dombasle soda ash site.

Solvay and Veolia laid the foundation stone of their joint cogeneration unit to enable Solvay to decarbonize its soda ash plant located in Dombasle, France. The ceremony was held in the presence of French representatives, Anne Le Guennec, Veolia’s General Manager and Philippe Kehren, President of Soda Ash & Derivatives. 

Last February, Solvay and Veolia began the construction of the industrial energy transition project called Dombasle Energy, which aims to replace coal with refuse-derived fuel (RDF) for the production of clean and competitive energy for its historical site. The project will ensure the plant's competitiveness and reduce CO2 emissions by 50%.

“With the current energy crisis, it becomes more and more urgent not to lose sight of the need to act on climate and to find sustainable and competitive solutions for the energy transition,“ said Philippe Kehren, Solvay Soda Ash and Derivatives President. “We are delighted to work with Veolia and other partners of choice. This project  will help transform the European soda ash industry, making it more sustainable and competitive, so we can better serve our customers in the long term."

Soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, is the 10th most consumed inorganic compound in the world and a base ingredient for glass for building, automotive, solar panels, packaging applications, detergents and chemicals, as well as solutions for the health care, food, animal feed and flue gas cleaning markets. 

Decarbonizing this “hard-to-abate” sector is considered more technically challenging than others such as energy or transportation because it entails emissions not only from heat and power generation but also from manufacturing and process industries. Some of the solutions to decarbonize this sector are yet to be discovered. 

Part of the Solvay One Planet strategic roadmap, Solvay targets its soda ash business to become carbon neutral before 2050 with identified investments of approximately €1 billion by 2040. Its commitment to phase out its use of coal is well underway with numerous projects worldwide. Solvay's soda ash plant in Dombasle, France, exemplifies the Group’s journey. The plant is set to become the largest site in France to run on RDF once the unit comes on stream in the fall of 2024.

Through the relentless pursuit of more innovative solutions, Solvay is also reinventing the soda ash process that was developed by Ernest Solvay himself some 160 years ago. Over the past few years, the Group has invested €40 million for the development of a new process and has recently announced a new investment at its Dombasle site to test this innovative, breakthrough, and more sustainable soda ash production process. This is another step forward towards its carbon neutrality target.

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