How is Grupa Azoty responding to the European Green Deal? This is a great challenge facing all of Europe and the Polish economy, including the coal-dependent industries.
We take a conscious approach to the challenge that is the European Green Deal and all that it entails. One can notice this at various levels. For example, for many years we have been successfully implementing the process of transforming Grupa Azoty into a closed-loop economy.
We are already contributing to the European Green Deal through our activities and running emission and carbon footprint reduction projects without waiting for further European regulations. We are on the eve of the publication of Grupa Azoty's 2030 strategy, which outlines the details of our green investment projects.
Diversifying our product portfolio is another way of adapting to the European Green Deal. In the area of plastics, we are developing a range of biodegradable products. In the fertiliser segment, we have introduced urea with a urease inhibitor, as well as a very innovative precision farming system. Based on satellite data, we conduct non-invasive soil analyses, which are then used by our customers in the targeted selection of Grupa Azoty fertilisers for their current crop needs. We are steadily shifting our value chain from straightforward fertiliser sales to selling fertilising services.
How do you utilise state-of-the-art technology throughout the production chain?
That Grupa Azoty could stop its constant investment in R&D and innovation is simply unfathomable to us. This is the future, not only in terms of diversifying the product portfolio but also in regard to streamlining production processes. Grupa Azoty's production plants feature systems utilising artificial intelligence, which enable us to predict failures, among others.
We are hard at work on commercialising our R&D projects developed thanks to our infrastructure facilities, i.e. the Research and Development Centre at the headquarters of our parent company in Tarnów. We also recently launched the Implementation Centre, a unit responsible for the commercialisation and industrial applications of all created technology solutions to support our business development needs.
Additionally, at the Karpacz Economic Forum, Grupa Azoty has become a signatory of the letter of intent concerning the establishment of the Lower Silesian Hydrogen Valley. What is Grupa Azoty's take on hydrogen? How will you be using this fuel of the future in your daily work?
Today, Grupa Azoty is Poland's largest hydrogen producer. We use it primarily for our own chemical synthesis. Nonetheless, we have ambitions to play a vital role in the process of building up the Polish hydrogen economy.
Our plants in Kędzierzyn and Puławy can already generate hydrogen with excellent purity parameters. We can even supply hydrogen with 99.999% purity, complying with the quality requirements for fuel used in fuel cells for FCVs (Fuel Cell Vehicle). Due to the construction of the Police Polymer Complex, we will also have access to hydrogen generated as a by-product. Its use in the Police facility's existing system will enable us to limit natural gas consumption, thereby reducing CO2 emissions as well. In short, we want to be part of the value chain of building a hydrogen economy from the very beginning.
Work on the Police Polymer Complex project is at an advanced stage. To what extent did the pandemic delay this investment project?
The pandemic has certainly had an impact on the project. One must bear in mind that this is an investment project with a very broad spectrum of impact, which is affected by such things as the construction site workers or the circumstances in areas from which device components are imported for assembly. By now, the project's progress status has already exceeded 70%. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
How will the Police Polymers facility change the life of the average Joe?
After its launch, the Police Polymer Complex will allow us to produce 437,000 tonnes of polypropylene per year, which can be applied in a wide range of industries, including construction, textiles, medical accessories – including Covid-19 protective face masks – as well as food packaging and consumer goods. Common replacements for plastics are not yet available in some of these applications. It must be emphasized that polypropylene perfectly matches the assumptions of the closed-loop economy due to its physical and chemical properties.
We assume that when the time comes to take stock of the pandemic, the undeniable advantages of using plastics will be recognised – whether in the context of packaging, protective measures or the medical industry. As a result, the foundation of the Police Polymers project will be further reinforced.
And what do you make biodegradable starch from?
The indispensable ingredient needed to make it is potatoes. Grupa Azoty was the first company in Central and Eastern Europe to introduce 100% biodegradable plastic to its production offer.
The production of biodegradable plastics, enabling a completely natural and environmentally neutral decomposition process, is part of the European Green Deal. This is not our last offer in this area. We are already working on new biodegradable material – one based on bio-waste.
Interviewee: Grupa Azoty