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The Beerse site is the largest energy user of all Janssen Pharmaceutica sites worldwide, its electricity consumption equals that of 38,000 homes. Janssen Pharmaceutica is therefore making significant investments to ensure that soon, the campus buildings will be heated and cooled using deep geothermal energy as a green and renewable energy source. This will reduce CO2 emissions by 30%, some 15.900 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Indeed using geothermal energy allows us to develop a local heat network and heat various buildings in a CO2 neutral manner. This investment of about 40 million euros fits within the wider objective of Janssen Pharmaceutica to obtain 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 worldwide. By 2050 this should have risen to 100%. At the same time, the company is targeting a 20% reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

What is geothermal energy?

The principle of geothermal energy is simple: Hot water is pumped from a groundwater layer very deep underground; the heat is extracted in an energy plant and the cooled water is returned to the same groundwater layer a bit further. There it will be warmed up again by the earth’s natural heat, making it a continuous and very environmentally friendly cycle. Research has shown that the groundwater at a depth of 2,4 km below the Beerse site has a temperature of approximately 90 degrees, which means that it can be used as an energy source for cooling, heating and even for generating electricity.

A fourth generation heat network.

A heat network can be compared with a central heating system in homes, but on the scale of a village such as the Janssen Beerse campus. At one location warm water is produced and is distributed through a network of pipes is distributed throughout the whole site. Because the installation is centralised for the whole site, it is a more efficient process, thus reducing global energy use. A fourth generation heat network is the most advanced, using renewable energy in a smart manner, water at low temperatures and insulated pipes.

Janssen Pharmaceutica is the first industrial concern in Belgium to apply this sustainable and green energy source to fulfil its own energy needs. The project was made possible thanks to the good collaboration with public authorities, neighbours and thanks to the financial support received from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, 1,5 million euro), Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship VLAIO (2 million euros) and the Flemish Energy Agency VEA (4 million euros).