Decarbonisation options for the Dutch dairy processing industry
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The dairy industry is a major part to the Dutch economy, contributing to 7% of the Dutch trade balance. At the same time, the dairy processing industry is a consumer of large quantities of energy, as the production processes of several dairy products are energy intensive. Because of the high energy requirements and the large volume of milk processed by the industry, a large carbon footprint is associated with the production of Dutch dairy products. The dairy processing industry has ambitions to reduce its emissions, which means that novel ways of producing the products are needed, or more sustainable sources of energy should be used. To analyse the possibilities and difficulties for the Dutch dairy processing industry in realising their ambitions, this study set out to quantify the development of the industry until 2050, looking at possible scenarios regarding volumes and mixes of dairy products. The energy requirements for these products have been determined, and possible decarbonisation options have been found. These options consisted of three energy-efficiency measures, the use of ultra-deep geothermal energy, and the use of electric boilers. The decarbonisation potential of these options has been determined up to 2050, along with their costs, thereby creating a yearly decarbonisation pathway for the different scenarios. The Dutch dairy processing industry can reach full decarbonisation in 2050 at a cost of between EUR 99 million and EUR 185 million, depending on the development the industry undergoes. Energy-efficiency options with low abatement costs, namely the use of zeolite during spray-drying and the use of mechanical vapour recompression during evaporation, can be utilised first to reduce the overall energy requirements. The remaining heat requirements can then be filled by geothermal energy, and finally by replacing natural gas boilers with electric ones. For the use of geothermal energy to be economically favourable, it is important that the industry can externalise or share the high investment costs. To ensure the increased electricity consumption by electric boilers leads to decarbonisation, the share of renewable electricity used should be high enough. This can either be achieved by increasing the share of renewables in the national grid or using renewable electricity generated by the dairy industry itself. Uncertainty in the used parameters can have significant impact on the results of this study. Therefore, future research should look at cooperating with the Dutch dairy industry to obtain more accurate values for production volumes and energy requirements.