Continental Tyre Plant Pioneers CO2-neutral Production in Lousado

Continental, a global leader in tyre manufacturing, has announced a significant milestone in its journey towards sustainable production. The company's tyre plant in Lousado, Portugal, is now capable of CO2-neutral production, thanks to the implementation of an innovative electric boiler that generates steam from renewable electricity.

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Published on
May 16, 2024

This development marks a critical step in Continental's broader ambition to achieve completely CO2-neutral production across all its tyre plants by 2040. The Lousado plant, with an annual production capacity of over 18 million tyres, serves as a model for how large-scale manufacturing facilities can transition to more sustainable practices.

Dr. Bernhard Trilken, Head of Manufacturing and Logistics at Continental Tires, emphasised the significance of this achievement: "In Lousado, we are demonstrating that even very large tyre plants can achieve CO2-neutral production. To do so, the availability of renewable energy sources at competitive prices is crucial."

The Lousado plant's electric boiler, which converts solar and other green electricity into steam, is central to this transition. The boiler operates with minimal losses, using a process where water is pumped to the top of the boiler and sprayed onto electrodes. The electric current flowing through the water jets heats the water until it evaporates into steam. This method replaces the previous reliance on natural gas, significantly reducing the plant's carbon footprint.

Pedro Carreira, Head of the Lousado plant, highlighted the importance of local environmental conditions: "Our site in Lousado benefits from the fact that the sun shines frequently. This enables us to achieve a fully electrified and CO2-neutral tyre production process whenever possible." However, the plant also maintains a conventional gas boiler to ensure flexibility in response to fluctuating renewable energy availability.

Continental's commitment to sustainability extends beyond Lousado. The company has been a leader in energy efficiency, achieving notable reductions in energy consumption per metric ton of tyres produced. In 2023 alone, Continental's tire division reduced its annual energy requirements by approximately 150 gigawatt hours through 160 energy-saving projects, including thermal insulation measures. This reduction is roughly equivalent to the average annual electricity supply for 12,500 single-family homes.

Looking ahead, Continental aims to reduce its energy consumption by 20% by 2030 compared to 2018 levels and to achieve climate-neutral production by 2040. Since the end of 2020, all the electricity purchased for Continental's global operations has been sourced from renewable energy, in line with the criteria of the global RE100 Initiative.

The Lousado plant, with its 30-year history in Portugal, not only produces the UltraContact NXT, the most sustainable series tyre to date, but also manufactures tyres for cars, agricultural machinery, and off-road vehicles. This facility exemplifies Continental's commitment to innovation and sustainability in tyre manufacturing and automotive technology.

Continental's advancements in Lousado represent a significant leap towards a more sustainable future for the tyre industry, setting a benchmark for other manufacturers to follow.

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