Solvay Soda Ash & Derivatives
has made a significant investment in a new steam
boiler at its Bulgarian Devnya synthetic soda ash plant.
The boiler will significantly
improve the companys energy efficiency, leading to a
reduction of energy costs of between 6-7%, president Christophe
Clemente told IM.
Synthetic soda ash production at
the companys plant stands at 1.5m tpa and is distributed
domestically and exported to global markets. Output will remain
the same and will not be interrupted, Clemente emphasised, as
the two old boilers will run alongside the new one. It will be
operational from 1 January 2017.
The new plant will be able to use
up to 20% biomass energy, which means that Solvay could
participate in the Energy Emissions Trading Scheme. The
previous boiler used coal as a fuel, whereas the new boiler
will use coal or pet coke as a feedstock.
Pointing to the many shutdowns that
have taken place in the industry over the last 12 months -
Penrices plant in Australia, Tatas Magadi in Kenya
and Winnington in the UK, as well as the companys own
Povoa plant in Portugal Ñ Clemente said that these were
all due to high energy costs.
The high cost of energy is
what killed these, he said.
The name of the game is very
simple for us. We have a long term view for this business. We
have to recover a little bit of profitability first before we
look to expanding capacities or addressing demand rises,
The measure to improve the
companys energy efficiency forms part of the
companys 100m ($127.3m*) cost-improvement target by
Soda ash demand
Clemente said that Solvay expected
soda ash demand to rise in the near term, but added that Solvay
was more bearish than its contempories when it came
to forecasting demand for the near future.
There has been a total
restructuring in the market of around 2m tonnes, he said.
Demand has been stable in parts but we do see slight
growth for 2015.
Supply in 2015 will be lower
than 2014 and this year, at times, we were tight, he
said. In 2015 we see a tight market.
Regions expected to see the highest
growth were South East Asia - in particular in
Indonesia - and East Africa, Clemente said. North America
is expected to be better, while Europe will be flat, he
*Conversion made October