December 18, 2014

Innovation inauguration in Porsgrunn

Yara's new pilot plants were celebrated with a December 18th ceremony that attracted a Norwegian ministerial visit to honor the occasion.
Yara CEO Torgeir Kvidal and Minister of Trade Monica Mæland
Yara CEO Torgeir Kvidal and Minister of Trade Monica Mæland

The scene was set, in the midst of Yara’s most modern plant, located in the city of Porsgrunn, just two hours south of Oslo. Pipes, tubes, tanks and containers shaped the background for the state of the art technology bringing efficiency and environmental-friendliness together in Norwegian industry.

The importance of land-based industry

CEO Torgeir Kvidal, Chief Technology Officer Pierre Herben and Porsgrunn Plant Manager Per Knudsen gave speeches at the event that wove together the themes of Upstream investments, the research and development aspect of the new pilot plants, energy-saving projects and combining business with social impact.

Per Knudsen welcomed Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland with the first official speech of the day, expressing Yara's belief in the importance of land-based global export industry to Norway, and linked this argument to Creating Impact. "Yara Porsgrunn delivers on the company's overall strategy," he said, "profitable growth - through delivering solutions for food security, resource efficiency and the environment." In times when the oil-dependent economy is affected by falling prices on crude oil, focus on competitiveness and growth oriented land-based industry becomes increasingly important.

The CEO discussed investments to increase capacity in Norway and Finland, and also the aspect of environmental concerns. "Compared to existing plants, at Porsgrunn we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tons of CO2 equivalents a year," Torgeir Kvidal said. "Also, the pilot plants we inaugurate today are an investment in health and environment. Here, we will test catalyst technology to reduce harmful emissions to air, building our environmental solutions business."

Everything starts with people

The CEO also stressed the support from Norwegian groups Enova and Innovation Norway, for providing targeted grants that allowed for the most environmentally-friendly investments possible.

Yara's CTO clarified the R&D function of the three new pilot plants, and reminded the gathering that the company was founded on a basis of science, innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Today we inaugurate three pilot facilities - the largest on the process of making advanced NPK fertilizers, the others to develop new solutions to abate greenhouse and NOx gases from various industries around the world," Pierre Herben said. "The pilot plants are key steps to validating the R&D laboratory-scale concepts in real life conditions, before applying them on a large industrial scale."

"Everything starts with people - in research, and then in society!" he said. "Our renewed strategy led us to triple our research investment in Porsgrunn over recent years. This contributes greatly to the attractiveness of the site, with around 19 nationalities now working in our Porsgrunn R&D community."

"The close collaboration between project engineers at the main plant and R&D Porsgrunn teams in our research facility has been vital to incorporate innovative solutions in our plant expansion."