Merck KGaA to cut carbon dioxide emissions at Darmstadt site

Merck KGaA's Darmstadt facilities--Courtesy of Merck KGaA

Germany's Merck KGaA has a host of manufacturing projects going on around the globe, in China and Italy, to name two. But it is also expanding its headquarters and manufacturing operations in Darmstadt, Germany, and needs to make sure it will have the energy capacity to operate there.

On Monday, Merck said it is investing about €27 million (about $36.3 million) to build two power plants that it says will provide more power more efficiently, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the area. A plant that it commissioned Monday will generate power for its pharmaceutical production and research operations at the site, and another, already under construction, will handle the cooling of the chemical plants and laboratories.

The cogeneration facilities will generate cooling, power, compressed air and heat for its facilities, with natural gas accounting for 70% of its energy production, up from 60% currently. The plants will emit about 2,500 metric tons less carbon dioxide per year than the site currently accounts for. It compared that to the CO2 emissions of around 440 average four-person households.

Merck's Darmstadt headquarters operation has about 9,000 employees and manufactures a host of drugs, including its beta-blocker Concor and diabetes drug Glucophage. The company said it will invest about €250 million ($336 million) in 2013 and 2014 in its operations there.

"With the construction of our energy stations, we are not only investing in the Darmstadt location, we are also supporting the energy revolution in Germany," Merck executive Karl-Ludwig Kley said in a statement.

But that is only a part of the work the drugmaker has under way. Last week it announced that in August it will start construction of an €80 million ($107.67 million) plant it is building in Shanghai, China, that will be its second largest in the world. It will focus on production of Glucophage, Concor and thyroid drug Euthyrox. The 40,000-square-meter plant will have room for a 20,000-square-meter expansion. The company expects to wrap up construction in 2016 and start commercial production in 2017. In May the news was a $68.5 million investment in its Merck Serono fill-finish plant in Bari, Italy, with new sterile filling operations expected to be online in 2017.

- here's the announcement