It has installed a new flue-gas condenser that captures heat from the chimney and simultaneously scrubs it to make it cleaner.
The investment also includes a heat pump system, a heat accumulator and an extension to the factory’s heat distribution network.
The company described the investment as the 'biggest energy-efficiency investment in Valio’s history'.
Valio's partner Adven Oy, a provider of energy and water services, will be responsible for operating and maintaining the system.
The initiative will help Valio cut energy consumption by more than 10% and CO2 emissions by about 10,000 tonnes per year, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of approximately 4,900 passenger cars.
Energy manager at Valio, Peter Fabritius, commented, "We produce the heat energy needed by our factory primarily using biofuel in a heat plant located on-site. Hot flue gas is generated in conjunction with heat production. Previously, the heat energy contained in the approx. 150°C flue gas went to waste, but now the flue-gas condenser captures the thermal energy.
"Water sprayed into the flue gas absorbs the thermal energy of the flue gas. This combined with the heat pump technology results in 80°C hot water, which we utilise in production and facility heating. We store the rest of the hot water in the new heat accumulator system. This gives us access to thermal energy when we need it the most."
The factory in Lapinlahti accounts for the biggest share of total energy consumption among all of Valio’s manufacturing sites.
Energy is required for two production processes in particular: drying milk powders and cooking cheese.
In addition to energy savings, the new system supports heat production, especially during periods of peak consumption, and reduces the use of light fuel oil-fired auxiliary boilers.
Fabritius added, “Valio’s target is to cut milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035. We have implemented a lot of energy-efficiency measures over the years. However, as a single measure, this is the most effective and tangible demonstration of the food industry’s sustainability work.
"The timing is right, as energy savings are needed now more than ever. Energy availability is a security of supply issue. Food factories must have continuous access to electricity in order to secure the Finnish food supply."