RENEWABLE ENERGY Heraeus and Next Energy sign power purchase agreement for electricity from solar plants
Heraeus Precious Metals, a global supplier in the precious metals industry and part of the global Heraeus Group, is cooperating with Next Energy on the installation of photovoltaic plants. In the Rhine-Main area, where the headquarters of both companies are located, Heraeus' commitment in the form of a long-term power purchase agreement will result in the construction of several large ground-mounted photovoltaic plants.
In total, the plants will have a maximum total output of 40 MWp and will provide the Heraeus Group with an expected electricity production of around 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year. This will make a significant contribution to meeting the company's electricity needs in Germany. The investment amounts to around 35 million euros.
Heraeus Precious Metals has set itself ambitious goals with regard to sustainability: By 2025, the precious metals business unit of the Heraeus Group strives to become CO2-neutral and from 2033 to completely dispense with the use of fossil fuels. The purchase of electricity from renewable sources plays an essential role in this. Since 2019, the share of green electricity has been continuously increased and is now already over 60 % worldwide. The power purchase agreement strengthens the company's independence from natural gas at its German site and makes it less vulnerable to price fluctuations.
"We are searching for solutions that are economically reasonable and meet our sustainability ambitions. When selecting our partners, we pay particular attention to regional proximity. In Next Energy, we have found a partner that precisely fits this strategy," emphasizes Svea Scherleithner, Global Head of Sustainability at Heraeus Precious Metals. With a term of 20 years, the two companies have succeeded in entering into a pioneering cooperation. This shows how serious they are about developing new ways to sustainably achieve climate goals and implementing them consistently.
Next Energy is the largest provider and operator of solar parks in the Main-Kinzig district. Since 2009, the company has specialized, among other things, in the project planning and construction of ground-mounted photovoltaic systems. Since then, more than 5,000 photovoltaic systems of various types have been realized in the private and commercial sectors. Torsten Eurich, Managing Director of Next Energy, is very satisfied with the conclusion of the contract: "We are pleased to realize this unique project together with Heraeus Precious Metals as a local partner. Together, we want to advance the energy transition and create sustainable added value for the entire region."
Next Energy's solar parks also meet the highest standards from an ecological perspective. Under the motto "Energy generation in harmony with nature and people", ecological erection and operation concepts are drawn up during the planning stage to safeguard nature conservation and are constantly being further developed. For example, Next Energy is the only operator so far to have successfully established a fallow deer population in a solar park. Torsten Eurich continues: "It is important to us to protect nature with our activities. We increase biodiversity on our solar park areas and also take agricultural issues seriously. Thus, we regularly enter into cooperations with local farmers for green fodder production and animal grazing in our solar parks. Likewise, we work with "Main-Kinzig-Blüht" (Main-Kinzig Blooms) to plant flowering meadows and make them accessible to local beekeepers."
Heraeus Precious Metals is also pushing ahead with other projects to switch to renewable energies at the Hanau site: Over the course of 2023, all suitable production buildings, carports, and the roof of the neighboring kindergarten, which is operated by the Heraeus Foundation, will be equipped with solar cells. In total, around 1.5 GWh of green electricity will thus be produced annually on-site.
But projects are also being implemented on a global level: Worldwide, more than half of all Heraeus Precious Metals’ production sites are already equipped with solar systems. These already generate up to 100 % of the company's own electricity consumption. By the end of 2023, the remaining sites will follow. In total, the solar systems installed at the worldwide sites will then cover at least 10 % of the annual electricity demand.