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Closing the loop: A French BASF site self-supplies with biomass heating

March 13, 2019

A comprehensive energy renovation in 2016 brought two main benefits for the BASF agricultural site in Marchélepot, Northern France: Since the contaminated grain from phytosanitary tests is used as energy supply for a CO2 neutral heating, the site saves both, waste disposal and electricity costs. 

The BASF agricultural research site Marchélepot is situated in Northern France. Here, up to 20 tons of cereals are grown each year for the testing and certification of crop protection solutions. Within the course of a comprehensive building renovation, started in 2015, project manager Henrik Meyer-Hoffmann from the French Facility and Real Estate division seized the opportunity to make the site profoundly more sustainable. With the support of the entire team (site, FM and management), he found a way to reuse the contaminated cereal waste for domestic heating by getting rid of the high disposal costs. The innovative solution turned out to be both, profitable and sustainable.  

Renewal towards a more sustainable site

During the two renovation phases, classical measures were taken to increase the buildings’ energy efficiency: LED lights replaced conventional lightbulbs, double glazed windows were installed, and BASF performance materials were used for thermal insulation which improved the energetic behavior of facades, ground slab and roof.  

With its “National Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth”, the French government targets to reduce the share of nuclear power plants down to 50 percent by 2025 and replace them with renewable energy sources. When it came to the heating system, the team, thus, decided to substitute the energy-intensive electric radiators in all rooms, a relatively cheap but unsustainable heating method commonly used in France.

“We had the sustainability aspect and the idea of circular economy clear in mind when we came up with the idea of reusing our biomass waste for heating. Also, the economic view and outlooks on the French energy market played an important part in decision making,” says Henrik Meyer-Hoffmann. After extensive calculations and as a result of several feasibility studies, the construction of the biomass based central heating system was approved and implemented in 2017. 

Validating sustainability: Marchélepot one year after

The feasibility studies predicted a short return on investment (ROI) of the construction and maintenance measures of the biomass heating project. After its first year in service, monitoring results can be compared to initial forecasts, confirming the spectacular decline in electricity consumption in 2018.

Encouraged by the positive figures as well as by the noticeable improvement in comfort due to the central heating, the interest to refurbish other BASF buildings in France with a biomass heating system was sparked while the project gained strong support by the BASF colleagues on-site: “The employees and their management were very much behind the project. They are proud to work at a site where sustainability plays such an important role”, says Meyer-Hoffmann. “With this project, the corporate Facility and Real Estate management helped to achieve several BASF key targets: profitable and CO2 neutral growth as well as a contribution to circular economy. It is a great example to illustrate how each department at BASF can contribute and engage to sustainability challenges” underlines Caroline Petigny, Sustainability Manager BASF in France.