Solvay, a chemical company headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, announced its Green River soda ash plant in Green River, Wyoming, has phased out coal as part of the company’s initiative to phase out coal as its primary energy source.

The Green River facility produces soda ash and sodium bicarbonate from trona, a naturally occurring mineral. These products are used in numerous applications including flat glass for building insulation, container glass, detergents, animal feed, food and flue gas treatment, as well as markets for solar panels and lithium carbonate for electric battery vehicles.

“Solvay is determined to undertake its energy transition and reduce its carbon footprint through a number of initiatives, including coal phase-out. From today, we will no longer use coal at Green River. The decision to power this strategic, natural soda ash facility with natural gas enhances Solvay’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability,” says Philippe Kehren, Solvay CEO.

The Green River plant historically used coal as a primary energy source. Solvay’s global sustainability goals include a commitment to phase out coal for energy production before 2030. By 2025, overall emissions from Green River will have decreased by 20% compared to 2021, despite a 25% increase in production.

Following the acquisition of the plant’s full ownership, Solvay announced plans in November 2022 to resume the construction of a 600-kiloton soda ash capacity expansion. The completion of the new terminal at the port of Vancouver and the U.S. will support this expanded capacity and meet customers’ growing demand for a secure, competitive and decarbonized supply of soda ash.

“The capacity expansion remains on track, with production set to begin early next year,” says Kehren. “On top of the coal phase-out, Green River will soon deploy innovative technology to further reduce its emissions. Solvay is the first company to implement regenerative thermal oxidation to abate greenhouse gas emissions in a trona mine.”

Solvay operates seven soda ash plants worldwide. Beyond Green River, coal is being phased out at two plants, located in France and Germany. By the end of 2024, Solvay’s Rheinberg, Germany site will become the first soda ash plant in the world to be powered primarily with renewable energy. The last two Solvay plants using coal for energy production, located in Spain and Bulgaria, have also begun their journey with a partial introduction of biomass and gas.

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