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O-I opens green energy plant in Languedoc

The energy produced by worldwide glass packaging manufacturer O-I’s new photovoltaic plant at Béziers, France, is equal to the annual energy consumption of a town with 2,000 citizens.

Installed and operated by green energy producer Aérowatt, the plant was officially opened on 12 May 2011.

Sustainable development is a key priority for O-I, which has announced goals to reduce its energy usage and CO2 emissions, increasing the proportion of cullet (recycled glass) used in its production of new glass, and reducing workplace accidents to zero.

The group has chosen Aérowatt as the provider of photovoltaic panels at its plants. Since last autumn, 10,085 m2 of modules have been installed at Béziers, covering four warehouses, representing a global capacity of 1381.5kWp to produce ‘green’ energy and supply the EDF electrical network.

Labelled as an "Innovative Company" by OSEO in 2003, Aérowatt is a major player in green energy production both in France and abroad. The company currently operates 25 wind farms and 28 photovoltaic plants, giving a cumulative total of over 120 MW.

"With the 4th European Solar Days being held this week, we are happy - as an industrial player - to be able to present the results of a successful collaboration that combines our knowledge of green energy and the sustainability program of O-I - an international industrial leader that’s contributing to France’s renewable energy targets", says Jerome Billerey, CEO of Aérowatt.

Already ISO 14001 certified and classified ICPE (Installations Classified for the Protection of the Environment), the Béziers site is one of the best in the world in this field. It is a model of OI’s sustainability strategy: using investment to reduce environmental impact. "The O-I sustainable development plan is bold," explains Yvan Agniel, Director of Energy, Environment and Industrial Risk, O-I Europe. "The group wants to reduce its carbon footprint by 65% by 2017, decrease its overall energy consumption by 50% and increase the proportion of recycled glass to 60% globally."

Since the construction of the plant in 1999, O-I has been investing in state-of-the-art equipment aimed at reducing its carbon footprint. The first example was a furnace, incorporating advanced technology, which provides a level of energy that is among the lowest in the glass industry. The plant also has a station that continuously filters and treats water, so that it is as clean after use as before.

A recently installed dust filter has reduced air emissions to just a fifth of the previous level by recycling the dust into the furnace as a raw material, neutralizing its effects and avoiding the storage of additional waste.

Glass recycling is also a major priority at Béziers. O-I is steadily increasing the proportion of cullet (recycled glass) in its manufacturing process. By using more cullet, the plant can reduce waste, substantially decrease CO2 emissions related to the extraction of raw materials, and reduce energy consumption. Today, the Béziers site uses up to 90% cullet.

To facilitate even greater sustainability, an Ipaq recycling center was installed next to the factory in 2008. The recycled glass is transported to the plant on conveyor belts, saving approximately 20 trucks’ worth of a CO2 a day.

Facilitated by the extensive surfaces of its warehouses, O-I is one of the first glass manufacturers to provide its plants with solar panels, and several new projects are on-going in its European plants.

In addition to producing green energy, the group is implementing solutions to reduce its environmental impact in every region of the world: Energy saving, CO2 reduction, process optimization, raw material management, renewable energy, preservation of the ecosystem. O-I’s comprehensive sustainability program is being deployed across five continents.





1 May 2011 - Felicity Murray