“We had to rely on other more renewable energy sources”

Southern Paprika Limited, one of New Zealand’s largest capsicum suppliers, has made a significant commitment to decarbonising its business, as part of a wider plan to reduce its footprint.

“We know that our customers, and a growing number of New Zealanders, want to be sure they are buying from sustainable growers and producers. We want to continue to improve our practices to meet this growing demand in the right way,” Southern Paprika’s said. Managing Director, Blair Morris.

“Any business also has to manage the big risks it faces, and for us, relying on natural gas as the sole source of energy is part of that. We knew we had to rely on other, more renewable energy sources to making Southern Paprika more sustainable and future-proofing expansion plans.”

A New Zealand first for covered crops
Southern Paprika has received co-funding under the third round of the Government’s Decarbonisation Industry Investment Fund (GIDI) to help install what is believed to be New Zealand’s first biomass CO2 recovery boiler . EECA provided nearly $5 million in co-financing, which will contribute to a total investment of $14 million required for the project.

Blair Morris (General Manager of Southern Paprika), Minister Megan Woods, Hamish Alexander (General Manager of Southern Paprika) and Pramesh Maharaj (ECA Senior Account Manager – Business Portfolio) at Southern Paprika’s Warkworth site.

The investment will enable Southern Paprika to switch to renewable energy for heating its greenhouse and then use the CO2 captured from this renewable wood energy for food production. This will involve installing a 10 MW wood-fired hot water boiler, which will heat more than 50% of their greenhouses. This boiler will also produce ‘green CO2’, providing a clean source of nutrients for growing plants.

“The biomass CO2 recovery boiler has proven itself in the Netherlands – and it also has great potential to help maintain New Zealand’s seasonal food supply,” Blair said.

New technology opens the door to decarbonization
The Warkworth-based horticultural company produces around 40 million peppers each season. About 75% of the produce grown at Southern Paprika is sold in New Zealand, while the rest is exported.

“We have been looking for a way to diversify our energy sources for about 10 years, but the right technology was not available. Standard biomass boilers were not the right solution on their own, as we could not use the CO2 to increase agricultural production. With this new technology, we can use this green CO2 produced for something productive,” Blair said.

EECA has been working with Southern Paprika for two years, with a focus on creating an emissions reduction pathway. In GIDI’s second round of funding, Southern Paprika received $330,000 to upgrade heat shields in five hectares of greenhouses.

This second project will reduce the organization’s emissions by 70%, by replacing 70% of the process’s heat needs with a renewable energy source.

“The GIDI co-funding from the EECA has helped make this project a reality. But we have also benefited greatly from the Energy Transition Acceleration Program, which has helped us identify the fuel switching path that works best for our business.

Respond to demand the right way
Southern Paprika is committed to being as sustainable as possible, with a focus on reducing emissions and becoming zero waste. The team identified that while there is a growing demand in New Zealand for healthy, locally grown and most productively grown produce, this should coincide with New Zealand’s changing sustainability goals. climate change.

This project is the second step in Southern Paprika’s decarbonization journey and will allow the team to continue to reduce emissions through fuel switching in the future. This suitable renewable energy source is a prerequisite for their planned 10-hectare expansion, which will increase production by 40% and create an additional 65 jobs in the company.

The new biomass CO2 recovery boiler will reduce the need to run existing natural gas boilers and therefore reduce the CO2 emissions currently produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. First, the boiler converts wood biomass to heat hot water stored in tanks, which is recirculated through a system of pipes to maintain the correct temperature for plant growth. Then, the CO2 produced by combustion is extracted, purified and stored in “lungs” to be used to feed growing plants. This “carbon capture and utilization” (CCU) system is crucial to plant health, as any impurities can potentially kill crops.

It is estimated that the two projects co-funded by GIDI will reduce carbon emissions at Southern Paprika by around 16,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, and the benefits of this work will be assessed across multiple sectors in New Zealand.

“We hope the project will also help other horticultural businesses start their own decarbonization journeys,” Blair said.

“With this ongoing decarbonization project, New Zealanders can be confident peppers are coming from a more sustainable and renewable source.”

For more information:
New Zealand Government

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