Volvo facility in Sweden achieves CO2 neutrality

Volvo Construction Equipment's Braås facility in Sweden has achieved a carbon neutral status, largely due to its use of renewable energy.

The 45,000 m2 site in southern Sweden, which specialises in the design and manufacture of articulated haulers, is now powered entirely by renewable energy sources – including wind, biomass and hydropower.

The first to achieve a carbon neutral status in its respective industry, the Braås facility follows Volvo Group’s trucks facility in Ghent, which became the first carbon neutral facility in the automotive sector.

Braas’ first step to becoming carbon neutral took place in 1999 when it installed a district heating plant, fuelled by wood chips, to provide central heating for its employees and the town’s residents.

In 2007, it joined a Volvo Group initiative that saw it switch to green electricity. These two initiatives brought the site’s level of CO2 neutrality to 87% in 2008.

The final push to reach 100% began two years ago when staff identified the greatest source of energy consumption as the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) burners, which were used to heat the rust protection treatment ovens to 60°C.

These were systematically replaced from September 2013 with district heating. The burners in the component paint shop, which reach temperatures of 120°C, were also altered to electrical heating. In addition, the site’s diesel forklifts were substituted with electric battery models.

Meanwhile, locals and the site’s 1,000 employees put pressure on the energy service provider to run the district heating plant on biomass only – regular oil had previously also been used during peak times and maintenance.

Volvo CE’s vice president of Core Value Management and CSR Niklas Nillroth said: “This is a tremendous achievement driven by the dedication and tenacity of employees at Braås.

“But we couldn’t have achieved it without the ready availability of green power in Sweden and the support of our local community,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie