Edison Energy recently sat down with Laurent Villiers, Global Procurement Associate Director, Plant Services & Utilities EMEA, at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to discuss the company’s comprehensive sustainability pathway across scopes, its multi-layered solutions to decarbonizing operations, and moving the industry from a competitive vision to a more collaborative one.
With 101 production sites across 19 countries, a portfolio of 300,000+ products worldwide, and nearly 65,000 global employees, science and technology giant Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany continues to advance on its goal of achieving climate neutral operations across its entire value chain and reducing its resource consumption by 2040.
This includes integrating sustainability into all of its value chains by decade’s end, which is no small feat – last year, the company purchased goods and services from approximately 54,000 suppliers in more than 140 countries.
By 2030, the company aims to lower its Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent, compared to 2020 levels. This near-term goal was approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which independently assesses and approves company targets based on its stringent climate science criteria.
“Being under the SBTi is absolutely critical to us,” said Laurent Villiers, Associate Director, Plant Services & Utilities EMEA, at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “Our goal for 2030 is challenging, particularly when it comes to managing the supply chain. We know that we need to mentor and motivate our suppliers to go in the direction of more sustainable activities, so we provide support and education to get real commitment from them.”
The company also aims to cover 80 percent of its purchased electricity with renewables by 2030 and reduce its Scope 3 emissions across its entire value chain by 52 percent by 2030.
All in on renewables
In 2022, the company’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions fell by almost 10 percent, thanks to the reduction of process-related emissions, implementation of energy efficiency measures, and the purchase of more electricity from renewable sources.
After signing two new Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs) in 2022, and another in 2023, renewable sources will cover 90 percent of the company’s electricity consumption in the U.S. and 55 percent globally, with plans to secure additional renewable energy sourcing in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, among other regions.
“We’ve got very interesting production site locations within the sunbelts, and we are currently investigating local solutions that combine onsite and offsite renewables,” Villiers said.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany recently signed a PPA in Spain for 130 MW of renewable energy across five projects in the country – two wind projects totaling 37 MW, and three solar projects totaling 88 MW. Co-locating the projects in Spain is a strategic decision to capitalize on the abundant renewable energy potential of the Iberian Peninsula.
The scale of the project puts Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany on track to achieve its bold climate targets globally.
“I think the projects in Spain will widely help our 3 Business Sectors achieve reduced emissions,” Villiers said.
To address the challenge of renewable energy intermittency, Villiers notes that several policies and subsidies coming out of the EU will help bring on affordable and reliable solutions to help balance the grid. This includes the Green Deal Industrial Plan, which allocates approximately USD $288 billion targeted at EU-based companies in strategic industries, clean energy, and technologies.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has three standards in place to manage energy and process-related emissions consistently, specifically Energy Management, Emissions, and Emissions of Refrigerants.
In addition to its own standards, the company is subject to a variety of national and international energy and climate regulations. At the European level, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is required to comply with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, which stipulates that companies must conduct regular energy audits or implement an ISO 50001-certified energy management system.
To date, 13 Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, sites have been certified in accordance with this system.
A holistic path to net zero
The company has made significant strides in reducing process – related emissions, aiming to reduce its carbon footprint across all of its business sectors. After a successful pilot project in 2022, Merck will invest in additional units this year to reduce process-related emissions in subsequent years.
To reduce its emissions generated from its products, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany launched a pilot project for an IT tool that will help calculate the carbon footprint of its product portfolios. The company also reports to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) on an annual basis.
Last year, a variety of energy efficiency initiatives helped Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany save approximately 3,000 metric tons of CO2eq at its global headquarters in Darmstadt, with the efforts focusing on improved heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, along with reduced base loads for compressed air systems.
Several of the company’s energy efficiency investment projects have achieved double-digit percentage point Scope 1 emissions reductions. In Vevey, Switzerland, the company replaced the natural gas-fueled steam generator with an electric model, achieving a reduction of 15 percent, while in Aubonne, the company upgraded coolers and installed heat pumps, achieving a reduction of 25 percent. At a core development site in Ivrea, Italy, heat pump technology was deployed as a way to counterbalance GHG emissions.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is currently exploring the use of recycled wastewater directly onsite, as well as waste heat recovery as potential clean sources of energy.
This comprehensive approach will help the company identify impactful value solutions, according to Villiers.
“The solutions of the future are more like building a wall made of various colors of bricks because each brick will bring its additional advantage,” he said. “We need to see the solution as a combination of technologies, which is a totally new mindset. Previously, the industry had been saying the solution had a single answer. We need to use a solution of multiple layers, and each layer has to be the most efficient, knowing that this will be a bit more complex in terms of overall solution. To me, it’s a complementary vision – we cannot source green from a green generator if we continue to waste energy in other places.”
Going forward, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany plans to ramp its sourcing of renewable energy in Europe, build customized heat solutions onsite, explore the implementation of geothermal energy, and investigate ground storage for solar generation. The company will also be ramping the use of IOT to help optimize solutions and grow capabilities around monitoring onsite energy.
“You need the appropriate combination of sources to come to a much greener solution,” Villiers said. “People need to be much more curious when it comes to innovation. Challenge your stakeholders to bring forth innovative solutions and to share those with other regions. We need to move from a competitive vision to a collective and holistic vision to find the best solutions in a rapidly innovating world. Competition has bred insecurity, particular when competitors are doing similar projects. We need more of a community spirit.”
Villiers also notes that Europe’s vision of economywide decarbonization should serve as a model for decarbonization on a global scale.
“Europe is developing a green economy, which will deliver significant results with the right mechanisms in place,” he said. “But we need to deploy clean solutions on a global scale. Tackling climate change will require every nation to take on the challenge of economywide decarbonization by deploying impactful solutions.”
Click here to learn more about Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s recent PPA for 130MW of wind and solar in Spain.
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