Decarbonization is an opportunity for real change


Tommy Lindgren, Head of Insulation R&D, recently summed up our decarbonization strategy as – “instead of throwing money at the problem, we are trying to improve & innovate wherever possible to change for the better, by simplifying the process, increasing productivity while reducing the needed capital investments to decarbonize.”

The most important question: ‘How?’

Paroc Factory in Parainen

Change is coming whether we want it or not, but we can choose how we approach it. Lindgren talked about decarbonizing our process and Owens Corning‘s goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, compared to 2018 emission level. We could just throw money at the problem, or we could seize the opportunity to make our process simpler and better. To make a real change.

In the last couple of years, we have done just that.

In a nutshell, the effort can be summed up by the question ‘How?’ How do we change our process so that we achieve our goals and decarbonize our production? We started by going through all the areas in the production process and identifying the ones that generate the most emissions. In OC Paroc’s stone wool production, that area is cupola melting, where the stones are melted using coke as the energy source.

Two melting technologies are used in OC Paroc's factories: cupola melting and electric melting furnaces. Whereas cupola melting is powered by coke, electric melting furnaces are powered by electricity. OC Paroc currently has three electric melting furnaces: one in its Finnish factory and two in its Polish factory. Work is underway to establish our biggest production line in Sweden called Natura Line, which will utilize the low CO2 electric melting technology.

During 2020, we studied several melting technologies and compared their pros and cons, in addition to several renewable fuels that are available today or are up & coming. It became clear that electric melting was the most energy-efficient option: the production process using electric melting furnaces powered by renewable electricity creates 80% less CO2 emissions than a cupola furnace.


New innovations

Then the real work began. It has consisted of going through ideas, ways, and calculations to further develop and improve the electric melting process. This means thinking not only about money, but also about how to spend it to achieve the most efficient, smooth, and low-carbon outcome possible.

The work has been a huge learning experience, during which we have found numerous innovative solutions. And we are not only banking on converting the cupolas into electric furnaces: We are further exploring options to reduce CO2 emissions elsewhere in the process. The promising options will be trialled in the near future.


A huge step in Poland: renewable electricity
Let's take a step back for a moment. When we looked into the components of our production process that generate the most CO2 emissions, electricity came in second. Our factories in Finland and Sweden have been using renewable electricity for some time, but our two electric melting lines in Poland were powered by conventional electricity. As electricity in Poland is still mainly generated using coal, this was reflected in emissions.
To change this situation, we started looking into different options for switching to renewable electricity in our Polish factory. In late 2021, this effort was rewarded when Owens Corning signed a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, or VPPA, with Octopus Renewables.
Under the agreement, the Polish factory and its two electric melting furnaces switched to wind-generated electricity at the beginning of 2022. The transition is significant and considerably reduces the carbon footprint of the products manufactured in the electric melting lines of the factory. It is also a big step forward on our decarbonization journey.
When I had the introduction meeting with Tommy Lindgren in my first days on the job, he said another thing that stuck with me and continues to be a guiding principle for this work on decarbonization. It was that, as a company, we compete on product quality, which is a strength. It means that no change or innovation we make should compromise the quality of our products. When we are looking for ways to decarbonize our process, price should not be the only criterion nor the most important one.
We are not changing for the sake of change, but for the sake of the future. Although our goal is for 2030, we are making a change already today.



Ayush Mishra
Global Decarbonization Lead,
Green Vision 2030 Project Lead