French glassmaker Verallia is investing in electric furnaces at its site in Cognac as it strives to meet its ambitious CO2 reduction targets. The furnaces are set to come on-stream in 2023-2024 and will produce extra-flint glass for wines and spirits.
Verallia has announced plans to switch to electric furnaces for part of its French production at its glassworks in Cognac. There are two furnaces at the Cognac plant: one produces green glass bottles for wines and spirits, while furnace 2 produces extra-flint glass. It is furnace 2, nearing end-of-life, that will be replaced by two, 100% electric furnaces with a combined capacity equivalent to that of the current furnace.
“We expect to install the first electric furnace in 2023,” Verallia France president Olivier Rousseau tells Luxe Packaging Insight. “The current furnace 2 will continue to produce at the same time, so as to not have a break in production. The second electric furnace is to be installed in 2024 in place of the current furnace 2 once the first electric furnace is up and running.”
The two new furnaces represent a bigger investment than a typical furnace rebuild. “A traditional furnace costs about €25m to rebuild. Given the innovative characteristics of electric furnaces from a technical point of view and their decarbonization capacity, the investment is set to be around 50% higher,” reveals Rousseau.
Initial studies indicate that these furnaces will cut CO2 emissions by about 50%, according to Verallia, which, on a group level is aiming to reduce its total C02 emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2) by 46% in 2030 compared to 2019, and is striving for net zero by 2050. Pushing green electricity use is also a focus, as is maximizing the volume of cullet in all its furnaces to reduce environmental impact as much as possible.
Currently, this 100% electric model can only be considered for furnaces producing flint glass, Rousseau explains. “This technology is not suitable for powerful furnaces with a throughput of more than 300 tons per day, so it is not applicable to furnaces producing colored glass, for which hybrid furnaces (80% fossil fuel and 20% electricity) are more appropriate.”