For these efforts, 2016 was another important year. The centralized energy management system we introduced in 2015 is helping to continually improve energy efficiency at Evonik and reduce CO2 emissions. Thus it's making a key contribution to climate protection and resource conservation. These processes are having an impact internally and are also being monitored by external auditors. In 2016 Evonik underwent further extensive external audits. Now for the first time, it has received certification according to the ISO 50001 standard for all of its companies in Germany as a whole. Outside Germany as well, some of Evonik's large and small locations have already been audited according to this international standard.
Evonik's internationally uniform energy management system applies to all of the company's locations and activities, whether they are in the areas of production, research or administration. A key component of this system is a shared awareness throughout the Group of the need to consume energy in sensible and economical ways. In training courses held all over the world, every Evonik employee is sensitized to the need to apply this principle. Many suggestions for improving and refining energy management are flowing from Evonik locations into the overall process.
In addition to these continuous efforts to use energy more efficiently, in 2016 Evonik made its biggest step toward reducing its CO2 emissions when it commissioned a combined-cycle gas turbine power plant to replace a coal-fired unit at its biggest location in Marl. This cogeneration power plant, which was built in partnership with E.ON, reduces the facility's CO2 emissions by up to 280,000 tons per year. That corresponds to the CO2 emissions of a city of 30,000 inhabitants. The new power plant, which uses combined heat and power technology, generates an electrical output of 60 megawatts and a thermal output of 100 megawatts. Its fuel efficiency rate is approximately 90 percent.
“Together with renewable energies, natural-gas power plants that work with combined heat and power technology will play an important role in the energy mix in the future,” says Andreas Steidle, who heads Evonik's energy management team. In addition to electricity, the production facility in Marl primarily requires steam. Steidle calculates that if Evonik wished to produce this steam from renewable raw materials, it would have to burn three million tons of wood annually; this corresponds to the lumber produced by half of the forest area of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Combined heat and power technology is therefore the first choice wherever facilities require electricity and heat all year round. At other locations, Evonik buys the steam from external suppliers. For example, in Darmstadt it comes from a waste incineration plant. “We find out on site which energy generation system is most appropriate,” says Steidle. “Then we adapt the system to match local requirements.”
The gas-fired power plant in Marl is also a backup power plant for the renewable energies in the electrical grid. If the amount of solar and wind power is insufficient, the gas-fired power plant can immediately step in and feed electricity into the public grid. In this way it protects the electrical grid from fluctuations and possible outages. In spite of these impressive successes, the energy experts at Evonik are continuing their work. As Steidle explains, “This is an ongoing process whose mainspring is the commitment and enthusiasm of the employees. That's why we want to further intensify the sharing of experiences in 2017, among other things. That way we'll keep generating ideas about ways to boost our energy efficiency and thus help implement Evonik's sustainability strategy.”