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November 8, 2023
WILMINGTON, Del. --AstraZeneca (AZN) is leveraging its global industrial-scale manufacturing and digital capabilities to boost US renewable natural gas (RNG) productivity through a planned expanded collaboration with Vanguard Renewables. With an ambition of achieving a multiple fold increase in productivity, the collaboration aims to accelerate parity with fossil fuel-generated natural gas.
Drawing on AstraZeneca’s global manufacturing, supply chain, digital and scientific expertise, the companies plan to work together to increase RNG yield and generate a step change improvement in the production of RNG. Technological improvements and enhanced production can increase access and cost-effectiveness of RNG, a current barrier to widespread renewable energy deployment. The collaboration also aims to add RNG capacity to the US power grid and build capabilities in sustainable innovation for broader public benefit.
Pam Cheng, Executive Vice President of Global Operations & IT and Chief Sustainability Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “The reality is that there are many challenges in adopting new energy sources and bold action is needed if we are going to successfully transition to green energy. Our collaboration with Vanguard Renewables is another important milestone on our path to net zero by driving deep decarbonization, not just across AstraZeneca’s own operations but across the healthcare sector and beyond.”
Starting with three priority areas, the collaboration will pursue capacity and design improvements to Vanguard Renewables’ Farm Powered® process via innovative controls and chemistry to more quickly produce RNG using farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) from food and farm waste; it also aims to develop Digital Twins for the AD process to enable rapid experimentation and modeling including the potential integration of artificial intelligence (AI); and thirdly aims to enhance supply chain robustness to scale manufacturing and supply.
Neil H. Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Vanguard Renewables stated: “As our partnership with AstraZeneca continues to develop, we believe this cross-collaboration will help us achieve our joint mission of forging a path to net zero.”
This announcement builds on the sector-first collaboration announced in June between AstraZeneca and Vanguard Renewables to deliver RNG to all of AstraZeneca’s US research and manufacturing sites by the end of 2026.
This planned collaboration contributes to the commitments made in AstraZeneca’s flagship Ambition Zero Carbon strategy for value chain decarbonization and is a bold step in the Company’s efforts to accelerate broader health sector decarbonization. The Company is on track to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its global operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 98% by 2026 from a 2015 baseline, and by 2030, AstraZeneca aims to halve its entire value chain footprint, and be on the way to becoming science-based net zero by 2045 at the latest.
Inedible or unsaleable food and beverage waste from the manufacturing and retail sectors is collected, sorted, depackaged on-site, and combined with dairy farm manure in a sealed biodigester tank. Once combined in the biodigester, microorganisms that naturally occur in manure digest the waste, converting sugars, fats and other compounds into biogas. Harnessing the waste’s energy captures as much as 95% of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that would result if food and beverage waste were sent to a landfill or if the farm manure were field-applied. The process produces RNG that is upgraded to pipeline-quality gas and injected into the existing pipeline infrastructure on-site, displacing traditional fossil fuels. The biogas is then used for heating and cooling or can be used to make Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles. The by-products of the anaerobic digestion process include a low-carbon and nutrient dense fertilizer (digestate) that reduces the farm’s dependency on chemical fertilizers, and a dry by-product which is used for animal bedding. When food and beverage manufacturers send their organic waste to a Farm Powered site and purchase the RNG created by their waste to power their plants, they are creating a closed-loop solution that helps to address Scope 1 and 3 emissions in their business practices.
AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries, and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information, please visit www.astrazeneca-us.com and follow us on social media @AstraZeneca
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