Phosphoric Acid, Phosphates & Fertilizers Experts

Eliminating greenhouse gas at Solvay in Brazil

The Angela Project is a large-scale greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plant located in Solvay’s Brazilian Paulínia site. The project originated from the adoption of the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol, by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 1997. The plan for the venture was developed by Solvay (at the time, Rhodia) under the scope of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in order to destroy nitrous gas (N2O), one of the listed greenhouse gasses.

Developed and built in 2006 (at inception, the plant was the fifth largest in the world, and the largest of its kind in Latin America), it has achieved much in the way of GHG reduction. It is recorded as eliminating 5 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually (which represents a contribution of approximately 20% of the overall emissions of the Brazilian chemical industry). Even today it continues to operate with high-level performance — substantiated by third-party audits carried out by German-based TÜV SÜD Group, and UK-based Environmental Resource Management (ERM).

The initial success of the Angela Project was based on the Clean Development Mechanism rules of additionality, which showed that only with a viable CERs market (Certified Emissions Reductions) would it be economically feasible to invest and to keep running this kind of plant. With that mechanism in place, a positive economic balance was achieved between 2007 and 2012. Since 2013, however, the EU has banned credits from N2O emissions reduction from Adipic Acid plants worldwide, including Angela. This EU decision, in conjunction with the breakdown of the Kyoto protocol, thus threatened the continued operation of the plant.

Although currently operating at a loss, Solvay has decided nevertheless to maintain the site by subsidizing its maintenance and operation costs. This decision is owed to the Group’s firm commitment to sustainable development. Solvay’s focus on social responsibility has further led to the founding of ‘The Rhodia Institute’ — a non-profit entity committed to promoting social inclusion and development in local communities around the plant, and the creation of Alquimia Jovem, a social project focused on complementary education, which has benefited more than 1,200 students in public schools from the communities around the Paulínia industrial plant.

While the decision to continue operations was motivated by Solvay’s environmental policy, it is still anticipated that there will be opportunities in the future for the plant to once again become profitable — primarily through the use of accumulated carbon credits.